The St. Andrew Street building of the Robert Gordon University (RGU), as it was known, was constructed from granite in around 1908, and is centrally placed within Aberdeen in the Woolmanhill area of the city.
The building is trapezoidal in shape and occupies a whole city block. The main entrance is situated in the centre of the south face on St. Andrew Street (hence the name). However, there are secondary entrances on the remaining elevations of the premises.
The site contains a central courtyard which was, over time, developed into a car park, library and a hall. Vehicular access is via two pends on the north face.
The building has lain unused since the university relocated to the Garthdee site, and was sold to the Sandman Hotel Group in 2014 for development into a four star hotel. As of October 2016, this renovation appears to be underway, with scaffolding cladding the west elevation. Unfortunately, the demand in the city for additional hotel space seems particularly weak a present as a result of the current decline in the oil industry.
The St. Andrew Street premises was home to the Aberdeen College of Education until the 1960s. Latterly, it housed the RGU schools of sciences and computing.
It has been said that the various elevations of the building display varying architectural merits: the south being the most significant. It is certainly the most inspiring to view in my opinion.
The image above shows the area immediately above the south entrance on St. Andrew Street: the view most building users would have been greeted by upon approach.
I have a personal connection to the building: I studied at RGU during the 1990s, and spend many hours within the library, lecture theatres and laboratories. I have very fond memories of the place. It was an establishment of learning, for sure. However, it was also somewhere to meet and socialise with fellow students.
I am glad that the building is not going to be razed, but instead repurposed: it would be a tremendous shame to lose such a large and significant granite building from the city.
However, even as I write, the future of the city and her inhabitants hangs in the balance.
Perhaps it’s too early to know if the St. Andrew Street building will survive. Dark days may still come…