Emerging New York architects John Puttick Associates have been chosen to give Preston's iconic bus station an important makeover. They faced stiff competition from a shortlist that included UK firms Cassidy + Ashton, Letts Wheeler Architects, Igor Russo with Flanagan Lawrence Architects and French practice Sane Architecture, but it was the American entrants who got the seal of approval from both the RIBA judges and the people of Preston, coming out on top in the public vote to redevelop the brutalist beauty.
The Preston Bus Station was designed in 1969 by BDP architects Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, in collaboration with engineers Ove Arup and Partners. The concrete mass soon gained global recognition, not only for being one of the largest bus stations in Europe but also because of its unusual sculptural design that features four curved tiers, which make up its car park's characteristic undulating façade.
However, the path to its next phase has been anything but smooth. In 2012, demolition seemed imminent after a couple of failed attempts for listing - it wasn't until 2013 that the building was finally granted Grade II listed status. The competition for its facelift as well as the creation of a home for Preston's Youth Zone Plus leisure centre was launched in February this year, run by the RIBA on behalf of Lancashire County Council and Preston Youth Zone.
The £13 million renovation is part of a broader scheme to transform the wider area into an energetic part of the city, complete with designs for a new youth centre with sports facilities that include a rooftop football pitch and outdoor plaza. 'The development is an important opportunity to create a destination that makes a genuine difference for both visitors and the local community,' says the competition-winning architect John Puttick.
The winning design weaves the old with the new, with the curved face of the nearby Youth Zone mirroring the original building's distinct curved edges. Once renovated, Preston's key transport hub is sure to become an exciting social one too. Works are expected to start later this year.