Wednesday, May 04, 2011

St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, by RHWL and Richard Griffiths

The painstaking restoration of St Pancras station’s neo-Gothic Midland Grand Hotel by architects RHWL and Richard Griffiths honours George Gilbert Scott’s original vision, despite some disappointing fit-out choices.

’Architecture is the art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by man … that the sight of them may contribute to his mental health, power and pleasure.” So wrote John Ruskin in 1849, in the opening sentence to the Seven Lamps of Architecture, his extended essay that attempted to define the guiding principles of the Gothic Revival. To this sentence, 30 years later, he added a barbed footnote: “This separates architecture from a wasp’s nest, rat hole and a railway station.”

In between these years, from 1867-77, one of the most extraordinary neo-Gothic buildings in the country was built. It was a Ruskinian dream of soaring spires and pointed arches, a polychromatic mountain of brick and stone, encrusted with carvings of birds and beasts and entwined with the tendrils of abundant foliage. It was the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras – a palatial frontage for a railway station...

Read the full review here

Originally published in BD, 4 May 2011