Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quadrant 3 by Dixon Jones

Dixon Jones’s reinvention of the 1915 Regent Palace Hotel as offices and retail presents its past glories to their best advantage
’It is with the deepest regret that I hear of the proposed mutilation of my design for rebuilding the Quadrant,” wrote the 81 year-old Norman Shaw to his client, the predecessor of the Crown Estate, in 1912. “I am, I am afraid, getting somewhat indifferent to architectural matters, but I have not yet arrived at the stage of absolute indifference, and to see a design with which I took so much pains thus vulgarised, troubles me.”
He died eight months later, never to see his plans for the southern end of London’s Regent Street realised. The designs to which he so objected had been produced by Henry Tanner Junior, whose Regent Palace Hotel, a block to the north, was by then already well under construction, its steel frame looming over Nash’s curving street front. This vast cream cake was shoehorned into an awkward triangular plot — produced by Regent Street’s abrupt turn to line up with Carlton House Terrace — a white-faienced beacon, dropped at the collision of Mayfair’s dignified grid with the devious alleys of Soho.
“It was like a spaceship that came down from Mars,” says David Shaw, head of the Regent Street portfolio at the Crown Estate. “It plonked itself down and turned its back on everything else.” Like the rest of Regent Street, it acted as a bookend to “contain” the mischief of Soho, although, offering over 1,000 cheap bedrooms and a host of eating and drinking parlours, it was clearly complicit in its night-time economy...
Read the full article here
Originally published in BD, 23 November 2011