The University of Ulster plans to demolish this 1932 building by Samuel Stevenson as part of its campus re–development proposals.
The building is an imposing structure and originally housed the Co–operative Department store and was adapted to serve as a home for the Art College – it is now synonymous with that highly appropriate use. It has a fantastic original circulation core – a fine staircase, timber paneling and stained glass windows. The rare survival of Belfast city centre’s last ‘Ballroom of Romance’ on the top floor, with its curved plasterwork ceiling, underscores its social as well as architectural importance.
UAHS put the building forward for listing twice but surprisingly the Northern Ireland Environment Agency did not agree that it met the criteria. It sits immediately outside the Cathedral Conservation Area, but clearly its loss would affect its setting, a point already well made by the DoE Conservation Officer. In any case it is clear to see that the building is of substantial worth and that this academical institution should be aware of the the imperative to save what is left of our fragile built heritage from social, environmental and economic perspectives.
Our volunteers researched other celebrated university campus developments which have inserted contemporary structures in historic built environments and we hope UU will have the vision to take the same approach. We have made our views known to the planners as well as the University and met with representatives from UU, joined by the Belfast Civic Trust and the Belfast Buildings Preservation Trust.
If you agree that the building is of importance and should be retained, please take a few minutes to contact the planning office.
UAHS letter of objection
Perspective article on Belfast’s Forgotten Art Deco