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View from Canons Road

Concrete tower

View from Prince Street

Upper floors

View from College Green

Location

Broad Quay, Bristol, BS1 4BY

Dates

1966-8. Redevelopment and conversion to hotel completed in 2009.

Architect

Alec French & Partners. Remodelled by AWW, Bristol.

Style

Contemporary

Listed Status

None

Materials

Steel and concrete frame, glass, distinctive blue tinted glass tower, with colour graduating from dark to light moving up the building, Bath stone facing on lower storeys and neighbouring buildings.

Original Function

Building society headquarters

Building type

Commerce

Visitor Access

Access to the hotel as a guest or the hotel foyer at all reasonable times. The building can be viewed externally from Broad Quay.

Links

Radisson Blu official site

AWW case study

Know Your Place

 

Key Facts

  • Dramatic tower with over 1300 blue glass panels soaring into the sky
  • Award-winning transformation of a 1960s commercial building

Where the eye-catching Radisson Blu hotel now stands was once home to the Bristol and West Building Society headquarters. This featured a 17-storey, 61 metre concrete tower (completed 1968) and a dark brick extension (completed 1980). Bristol and West moved out in 2003.

 

The site was then redeveloped by Bristol-based architects AWW working with Softroom, a practice who specialize in public art. The brick extension was demolished but the landmark tower was kept, towering over the Centre. It was covered in blue glass panels that become paler the higher they go, so that the structure seems to disappear into the sky. This tower is a hotel for SAS Radisson (opened 2009). The scheme also includes flats and shops. Lower storeys and neighbouring buildings are faced with Bath stone, which ties them in with older buildings nearby and creates a more continuous frontage along historic Broad Quay.

Bristol and West’s 1960s tower was designed by Alec French & Partners. The original idea was that the first-floor banking hall would link with a pedestrian deck network over the Centre. This was never carried out. Alec French & Partners also designed the later extension – a dark brick polygon with a leaded mansard roof. Bristol and West’s new HQ from 2003 was at Temple Quay but the company has since closed.

 

This contemporary refreshing of a typical 1960s urban development has been extremely well received. The local press welcomed it as an ‘icon’ and it won the 2011 Bristol Civic Society Award.

 

 

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