Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Andrew Dixon

Compare the icons of NewcastleGateshead, Durham, Sunderland, Northumberland and even Tees Valley with elsewhere in the country and you soon realise that North-East England benefits from great buildings, bridges, public art and follies. Try hunting for distinctive landmarks in the tourist brochures for Leeds or Leicester and you will almost draw a blank!

Investing in good architecture is an act of positive thinking whether you are the Romans building Hadrian's Wall or Gateshead Council and their Millennium Bridge. It costs money, but the investment will invariably pay dividends in the quality, life expectancy and value that the public attach to buildings.

It is over 150 years since John Dobson and Richard Grainger completed Grainger Town in Newcastle and its Central Station. Grainger Town was an act of long-term foresight and its majestic streets have been admired and used by generations. The equivalent opportunity exists today in several parts of the region.

In November, Middlesbrough will see the opening of MIMA, a new pounds 17m centre of modern art designed by a Dutch architect. MIMA just exudes quality and from its roof terrace you can view the Town Hall, Empire Theatre, Bottle of Notes and Transporter Bridge, each representing a moment of positive municipal thinking. In Gateshead, we are about to read the next chapter in the transformation of Gateshead Quays and in Newcastle, the Science City project has the opportunity to do a 21st Century Grainger for the old brewery site, so long as the aspiration remains high.

The recently announced proposal to explore the merger of Newcastle and Gateshead colleges is based on the ambition to deliver the United Kingdom's best college with world-class teaching in world-class facilities. The two college principals are justified in their claim because both are positive thinking institutions, investing in buildings for the future. Quality literally pays dividends in the private sector. Office developers Parabola Estates turned the old Post Office depot into Central Square, delivered us Paolozzi's sculpture and won awards for office design of the year. …

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