St Nicholas House: Elegant and airy, or eyesore?

For many it was an eyesore which dominated the Aberdeen skyline, dwarfing the surrounding landscape.

But for Aberdeen photographer Roddy Millar, St Nicholas House was a building with character and style.

The former council headquarters, which included a 14-storey tower, was demolished in 2014 after nearly four decades as a landmark in the city centre.

Roddy will showcase his photographic exhibition on the demolition of the former building on Broad Street at an exhibition next month.

Roddy, who graduated in sculpture from Gray's School of Art, said he was inspired to create his exhibition, St Nicholas House in Memoriam, after taking an interest in another Aberdeen landmark - Union Terrace Gardens.

The former art teacher said he started taking photos of the gardens due to the fear they may be raised under previous plans before moving on to St Nicholas House.

Roddy, 73, said he felt it was "such a pity" to see the building flattened.

"I had always thought it was quite elegant and a good example of mid-20th Century modernism. I thought it was light, airy and all the things that this new building isn't."

Roddy said he was also drawn to the contrast between the styles of St Nicholas House compared to Provost Skene's House.

"I don't see anything wrong with the variety of styles. It was a place people could use to orientate themselves. It did dominate, but in a way it was more or less the height of the Mitchell Tower at Marischal College. Although it was dominant, it wasn't oppressive."

Roddy says he takes a keen interest in the built environment because it should be the "highest possible standard" as, unlike an art gallery, it is something people have to see every day.

"It's a real regret for me to see these old buildings worthy of being retained and preserved, demolished for dubious replacements."

In 2011, more than 1,000 council staff vacated the 14-storey St Nicholas House building, erected in 1968, for the newly-refurbished historic Marischal College building across the road.

The demolition work in 2014 made one of Aberdeen's oldest buildings, Provost Skene's House, completely visible for the first time in decades.

Looking to future projects, Roddy is keen to photograph Woodhill House, the Denburn car park and Triple Kirks.

He has also began, and will continue documenting, the erection of the Marischal Square development.

Construction of the £107 million project, featuring a hotel and office complex, is currently under way.

Roddy's exhibition will officially open at Aberdeen Central Library on Monday, February 6 at 6pm and will run until March 4.

Created By
Callum Main


Pictures by Roddy Millar

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