When visitors arrive in London by exiting from the front of King’s Cross in future, they may well be greeted by this sight, if developers are successful.
A company has applied for permission to build a 7-storey, 167-room hotel squarely facing the station. It would involve demolishing three of the last handful of Georgian buildings on Euston Road, between Birkenhead Street and Crestfield Street.
The images show a solid, sheer-faced block dwarfing the buildings around it. The developers’ design rationale audaciously justifies the height of the building as a response to the size of King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, and that it aims to create “definition and enclosure” for the gateway area which will be formed by the square in front of King’s Cross.
Unsurprisingly the proposal cites the 9-storey Camden Town Hall extension as a precedent for such a dramatic height, but that is some distance away. The junction may have a lot wrong with it, but one thing it has going for it is a consistent 19th century 5-storey scale and character.
The developers argue that the Georgian terraces, which are in the King’s Cross Conservation Area, ought to be demolished because of their tatty front extensions. Using that logic, the station itself should have faced the wrecking ball instead of being restored.
And who is this company with big designs on such a high-profile site? Searches of the applicant, “Gaylord Investments Limited” bring up a US-registered company with virtually no accessible data. All the numerous architectural drawings submitted bear no name of architect, client, nor date.
The application states: “An exciting contemporary and contextual design approach has been advanced for the site, which enjoys the general support of The Design Council.” But the Design Council’s letter included in the submission says: “Unfortunately, we are not convinced, from the information provided, that this concept [a translucent skin hung on cabling on the façade] will be successful and of sufficient quality appropriate to this prominent location opposite King’s Cross station…we question whether the visualisations are a true representation of how the building will look.”
Documents also reveal that the plans take into account Transport for London’s possible interest in adding a third lane on Euston Road at that point, which could mean losing 1.2m of pavement width at the front of the building.
Time is of the essence if you want to submit comments, the deadline is this Thursday, 1 December. This is the application, and this document, out of the collection of 50 or so, is a good overview of the scheme.