Today much of the original footprint and well-built brick, stone, glass and concrete structure prevails, with more recent retro fitted additions.
The Cullen mural has been renovated and re-sited.
Sadly only one of the neon sculptures, remains illuminated – they may have been listed by Historic England, they have certainly given them a coat of looking at. I myself was approached whilst working away by a crack squad of precinct management, questioning my methods and motives. I reassured them I was a serious student of post-war architecture and they allowed happily to go about my business – assuring me that I was following in the footsteps of HE.
The elevated café, pierced screenwork, mosaics on the former Locarno, now Library and town clock are still every much in situ, Lady Godiva dutifully appearing on the hour, every hour with an ever attendant Peeping Tom for company.
The area is well-used bustling busy, with a smattering of empty units which are sadly typical of most provincial town competing for custom and prosperity on the high street.
Or possibly simply bump into them, casually walking around Sheffield and environs.
The Arts Tower is an exciting amalgam of Manchester’s CIS Tower, Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building and itself. A sleek slab of steel and glass, occupying a prominent site with views across Sheffield’s seven hills.
On a sunny Sunday in early April the adjoining library was alive with studying students and Modernists, attracting the odd, odd look, as we stopped and stooped to snap the odd period detail or two. It has retained much of its original character and features, deliciously elegant, almost edible chairs, some signage – and a clock.
Though the seven is mysteriously missing.
It was opened by TS Elliot.
On 12th May 1959 – it was a Tuesday.
The Arts Tower 12 Bolsover Street in Sheffield, belonging to the University of Sheffield and opened in 1966. English Heritage has called it
“the most elegant university tower block in Britain of its period”.
At 255 feet/78 m tall, it is the second tallest building in the city. It is also the tallest university building in the United Kingdom.
Designed by architects Gollins, Melvin, Ward & Partners, construction of the tower started in 1961 and lasted four years.
Entry to the building was originally made by a wide bridge between fountains over a shallow pool area in front of the building. This pool was eventually drained and covered over when it was found that strong down drafts of wind hitting the building on gusty days caused the fountain to soak people entering and exiting the building.
The building was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in June 1966; it has 20 stories and a mezzanine level above ground. As its name suggests, the building originally housed all the University’s arts departments. Circulation is through two ordinary lifts and a paternoster lift, at 38 cars the largest of the few surviving in the United Kingdom.
A bridge at the mezzanine level links the tower to Western Bank Library. This building was also designed by Gollins, Melvin, Ward & Partners—the two buildings are intended to be viewed together, the Arts Tower and Library are Grade II* listed buildings.
So if you have a penchant for a tall slab with an adjoining library, set in expansive parkland on the perimeter of a dual carriageway – go take a look.
Built and opened in 1967, designed by the County Architect Roger Booth, who was also responsible for a whole host of buildings in Lancashire between 1962 and 1983.
Almost fifty years on, the building still speaks of modernity, optimism, light and learning. It’s well used and loved by the public and the charming and helpful staff – many thanks, for your time and assistance.
Application was made for listing, this was not accepted – there have been significant changes to both the external and internal structure over time.
The vertical, impressed cast concrete panels, shown above, have been replaced by brick.
The original suspended *bean can* lighting system has also been replaced. At night, I was told it was hard to navigate the building using the limited spot illumination, so a box of bike lights were kept and handed out, to permit the safe, well-lit passage of library users.
Concentric hexagonal rings of suspended strip lighting are now in place.
Sadly the vivarium, contained in a glassed link corridor, was short lived.