A landmark office building is set to make an Empire State-style impact on the Leeds skyline, as a developer looks to light up West Riding House.
The twenty-storey tower on Albion Street - set to be renamed ‘Pinnacle’ - could be bathed in light if new plans are approved by the council.
This latest proposal joins plans for two advertising and media screens just footsteps apart, on the base of West Riding House itself and on the corner of the under-construction Trinity West shopping centre, which taken together could transform this popular shopping area, which has never hidden its commercialism, into a focus of light and movement like Times Square or Piccadilly Circus.
Using pole mounted LED lights on the fourth floor car park level, the plans would allow for distinctive lighting patterns that could vary from night to night. Celebratory lighting schemes are proposed for special occasions - similar to the famous ‘Tower Lights’ that make the Empire State Building unmissable on the night-time Manhattan skyline.
The plans show possible lighting patterns for Christmas, New Year’s, Diwali and Valentine’s Day - when the modernist block would be lit from top to bottom in purple. Presumably the building could be lit up for gala occasions of a more local nature - rose-white to celebrate Yorkshire Day; or blue and yellow to mark a win by Leeds Rhinos or, less likely, United.
Built in the early seventies, West Riding House’s stark modernism has never won over the hearts of Loiners, or the minds of architecture critics. Brusquely dismissed by the Pevsner Architectural Guide as ‘domineering’ and a ‘sixteen-storey slab-on-a-podium,’ it brought International Style to Leeds a little late and a little too lazy. The tower presents a slender profile to the north and south, but looms with an unforgiving geometry over the low-rise shops and offices on Albion Place and around Park Square.
The neon blue lettering on its top floor already makes West Riding House a sign of home for motorists arriving from the south of the city, but as many people would rather the building disappear completely as would wish to see it become a skyline spectacle for years to come.
But now that the brutalist Chamberlin, Powell & Bon buildings at the University of Leeds have Listed status, shouldn’t Leeds celebrate and make the most of its mid-twentieth century architecture? With over 80,000 square feet of office space within its 80m high concrete and glass walls, West Riding House isn’t going anywhere soon; could a cleaned up and lit up ‘Pinnacle’ become a building to be proud of? Or would twenty storeys of light be an welcome intrusion into the night sky, no matter what the occasion - even in the city that brings us Light Night every year?
The plans can be viewed on the council’s website by clicking here - take a look and let us know what you think in the comments.