What university rectors do for fun: Richard Sykes demolishing a Grade II listed building
If you would like to see a couple of the major players in this saga in the virtual flesh as it were, head off to this page on the Imperial site or click on the picture above to watch a rather scary video in which the rector of Imperial College, Professor Sir Richard Sykes, leaps into a drilling machine to begin the demolition of the Grade II listed Southside halls of residence regarded by specialists as ‘one of the flagship buildings of the post-war university development’.
Tearing down Southside was a controversial proposal, fought bitterly by the Twentieth Century Society until it accepted that the state of the building was so bad it had to come down (apparently neither Imperial’s science or David Brooks Wilson’s estates skills were sufficient to save it). All the same, it is a little odd to watch a squeaky-voiced Yorkshire academic don a hard hat to take a whacking great demolition machine to the thing. What will he do if he gets the chance to build on Wye? Sacrifice a lamb before the bulldozers are let off the leash?
You will also get the opportunity to hear Mr Brooks Wilson describing how the project began with ‘the decision to knock down the building’. Not ‘apply for permission to knock down the building’, you will note, which legally is the case. A Grade II listed edifice, even one in a terrible state, cannot simply be demolished at will.
Imperial’s web video skills are sadly lacking I’m afraid, and there is nothing we can do to change that. They have put up this video in such a way that it requires the horrible Real Player to watch it, and demands a ridiculously fast broadband connection. Nor is anyone allowed to download the file and repost it in a more watchable fashion. So if you are on a speedy net connection… enjoy. Otherwise, you will probably just get still pictures and the audio. If the Imperial website would like advice on how to post video so most of us can watch it, just ask.