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Bonar Hall, Park Place, University of Dundee, Dundee

A Category B Listed Building in Dundee, Dundee

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Latitude: 56.4575 / 56°27'27"N

Longitude: -2.9771 / 2°58'37"W

OS Eastings: 339879

OS Northings: 729913

OS Grid: NO398299

Mapcode National: GBR Z96.1P

Mapcode Global: WH7RB.7YLG

Entry Name: Bonar Hall, Park Place, University of Dundee, Dundee

Listing Date: 14 January 2014

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 402084

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52165

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dundee

County: Dundee

Town: Dundee

Electoral Ward: West End

Traditional County: Angus

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Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, 1975-77. 2-storey university assembly hall with stepped, asymmetrical modular plan, occupying restricted site. Broad expanses of yellow brick; angular glazed sections and infills with dark-stained timber surrounds and horizontal boarding. Foyers to ground and first floor; main hall to S.

SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: recessed entrance to centre. T-plan steps and raised walkway access to upper floor. Stairs and sloping ground to either side of walkway accessing ground floor foyer. Asymmetrical arrangement of glazed modular blocks, increasing in size to either side of entrance recess. Metal railings to central roof space. Uninterrupted expanses of brick to outer bays.

SE (NETHERGATE) ELEVATION: broad expanse of brick with stepped bays toward E corner, each with horizontal band glazing at mid-height.

NE ELEVATION: recess to centre: full-height, stepped, angular, 4-bay with large windows and single-leaf door to ground. Horizontal glazed bands extend to left and right.

NW ELEVATION: oversailing stair and walkway access to rear door. Louvred vents.

Predominantly fixed single-pane glazing. Louvred glazing to horizontal sections.

INTERIOR: seen 2012. Ground floor foyer and reception: diagonally transposed shuttered concrete ceiling; square supporting columns in brick; stair to upper foyer with full height dark-timber bannisters rising between floors. First floor foyer: heavy timber beam and panel ceiling. Ustinov (Senate) Room to NW: diagonally-orientated with high level glazing to filter natural and artificial light through banked and slatted timber ceiling. Raised podium area to N corner flanked by Amalfi tapestry. Long view window to W. Main hall with stage (to SE): timber floor; cantilevered timber clad sound booth to rear flanked by doors to upper foyer; extendable, raked seating in wall recesses.

Statement of Interest

Designed as a multi-purpose gathering space, the Bonar Hall (completed in 1977) is a key addition to the University of Dundee's progressive modernist architecture building programme of the post-war period. The plan and design of the hall makes clever use of a relatively restricted site toward the south west corner of the campus. It is characterised by its stepped profile with large uninterrupted expanses of brick and modular glazed infills. The building has not been substantially altered since its completion with lower and upper foyers, main hall and senate room interiors intact. The Bonar Hall is also significant for being among the final works by Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan for the internationally renowned Scottish architectural practice of the post-war period, Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

The stepped entrance recess to Park Place is carefully considered to decrease the sense of scale while maximising levels of natural light to the upper floor. Internally, the Ustinov (Senate) Room is particularly well-articulated with its diagonally transposed, slatted timber ceiling acting as a diffusing filter to both natural and artificial light and directing attention toward the dais. The low, rough-sawn shuttered concrete ceiling to the ground floor foyer creates a deliberate contrast and serves to heighten the effect. The stair linking the two areas is Mackintosh-esque.

Information commissioned from the Court Minutes show that the original concept for the building in 1972 underwent a number of revisions, due mainly to escalating costs and a decreased budget. The building was initially conceived as a three storey building with a restaurant. The original ceiling proposed for the main hall was also deleted from the design to reduce costs.

Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan were working for Gillespie, Kidd and Coia from 1954 and together, carried out most of the practice's design work from 1957 as Jack Coia approached retirement. They designed a remarkable series of Roman Catholic churches in Scotland including St Paul's, Glenrothes (1956, see separate listing) and St Bride's in East Kilbride (1963-4, see separate listing). St Peter's Seminary, Cardross (completed in 1966, see separate listing) was the first post-war building to receive Category-A listed status. Their later work was defined by a series of university commissions, including halls of residence at Hull (1963-7), additions to Wadham College, Oxford (1971-7), and Robinson College, Cambridge (1974-80). Robinson College in particular shares stylistic motifs with Bonar Hall, with broad expanses of brick punctuated by angular glazed infills.

Peter Ustinov was the first Rector of Dundee University in 1968 and attended the room naming ceremony (formerly the Senate Room) in 1979.

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