Bus station design winner criticised for being ‘safe’

WINNING BID: The design for Preston Bus Station, created by John Puttick Associates

WINNING BID: The design for Preston Bus Station, created by John Puttick Associates

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An architect behind one of the unsuccessful designs to revive Preston’s bus station has labelled the winning entry “safe”.

Nicholas Boyarsky from London-based Boyarsky Murphy Architects said the chosen design needed “a stronger response” to stand alongside the city’s iconic station.

I think the winning design needed to have a stronger response, we saw this strong building that’s from the 1970s and we needed to put a stronger building next to it.

Nicholas Boyarsky

It was announced earlier this month that New York’s John Puttick Associates had won a competition to “breathe life” back into Preston’s grade II listed bus station.

But Mr Boyarsky, whose own design was one of more than 100 losing entries, has criticised the winning bid. He said: “I think the winning design needed to have a stronger response, we saw this strong building that’s from the 1970s and we needed to put a stronger building next to it. You could say it the winning design was safe, it’s a pretty robust building and needs a pretty robust building next to it.

“Our brief was to renovate the ground floor, to create a public square and propose a new youth zone. We liked the original building, but it was lonely. We proposed to push out and extend the station’s concourse to make it more accessible and transparent. We also wanted to include a youth zone which had a gym and to also put a football pitch on the roof.”

In their proposal, Boyarsky Murphy planned to refurbish the station with the intention of improving commuter’s daily experiences. They also wanted to create a three-story Youth Zone Plus building kitted out with a sports hall, fitness and boxing suites and a football pitch on the rooftop enclosed by metal mesh.

Since the announcement, the winning design was also criticised by The Guardian’s architecture expert, Olly Wainwright.

He described it as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend” and compared it to “a fridge-freezer dumped in the station’s forecourt.”

And Russell Curtis, director of RCKa Architects, who were also unsuccessful, tweeted: “God, I know this is going to sound like sour grapes, but is this really the scheme that Preston Bus Station deserves?”

However, when the winning entry was announced Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of owners Lancashire County Council, hailed the ‘strong design’.

She said: “We always knew that the bus station had a global appeal and the fact that the winning firm comes from New York reinforces this.

“We’re delighted that a strong design has been chosen for the new Youth Zone Plus and we’ll now be working hard to get it built.”