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An update on King's Cross Station

Senior Heritage Architect, David Jackson, gives an update on his work on King's Cross:

I started working on the redevelopment of King's Cross in March 2010. The project had been onsite since mid-2009 and looked drastically different to the station nearing completion you see today.  I was immediately taken aback by the project's complexity and ambition: the combination of brave, new architecture with the existing Victorian station; the layers of sensitive restoration that needed to take place; and the plans to rejuvenate and modernise a railway icon.

Being a specialist in historic restoration, I was drawn to the Western Range part of the project- a complex series of buildings that millions of passengers pass through, normally without realising it's even there!  In the transformed station, which we'll see opened in March 2012, the Western Range will be a vital transition space that will link William Cubitt's restored 1852 station to John McAslan + Partners' new Western Concourse.

The Western Range, like the Main Train Shed, is a Grade I Listed building but this doesn't mean you have to slavishly restore every aspect of the project to its mid 19th Century condition. This would be impractical.  We worked closely with English Heritage to bring the building back to life; both teams thought very carefully about how to preserve the many truly special elements of the existing station. Alongside this, we also had to recognise that the station, the way people travel, and the facilities that King's Cross requires had changed a great deal since 1852.
This dialogue between old and new can be felt throughout the Western Concourse building. Major inventions needed to take place, for example, the creation of the southern gate-line required substantial structural work to remove the five bays of the ground floor, whilst retaining the two storeys above, allowing passengers to enter the Main Train Shed from the new Western Concourse. These changes to the Western Range were matched with very careful modifications that helped reveal the station's rich heritage, such as removing the intermediate floor that was added to the booking hall in the 20th Century, restoring the original proportions to the space.
The area of the Western Range that has been probably the most interesting for me personally is the Atrium space, a part of the project sandwiched between the Main Shed and Suburban Train Shed, which has remained relatively untouched for many years.  The space contained the original parcels office for the station and, at the time of the building's completion, housed some of the most radical engineering of the period.
The atrium will be sensitively turned into a pub and restaurant split over two levels. By changing the use and by bringing this part of the project back to life, we are achieving one of the core ambitions of the project:  to preserve and embed the historically important parts of the station within a truly modern 21st Century transport hub.
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