The Beacon is a brand new development taking shape along the riverside at East India Dock and will relocate Greenock Arts Guild Theatre Ltd from its current premises in Campbell Street to a more central location.
LDN Architects designed the £9.4m project, which began in October 2010. Main contractor for the scheme is Graham Construction, whilst the project manager is Faithful+Gould and the quantity surveyor is Thomson Bethune.
The project has been funded by Creative Scotland, Inverclyde Council, Riverside Inverclyde, Big Lottery and Greenock Arts Guild Ltd.
The Beacon is being built on what was previously a mix of open land and the Lamont’s dry docks, beside the Customs House on the open shore waterfront. The steel and concrete construction has metal decked floors, concrete roof coverings and perimeter masonry walls. Reglit Glass cladding surrounds the majority of the external concrete, which can be illuminated to alter the colour.
Internally the Beacon will include a 500-seat theatre with a fly tower and orchestra pit. Provisions for visitors include a glazed bistro bar with function and rehearsal rooms above. There is also an additional 130-seat studio theatre with flexible seating.
Public and backstage access is divided over two floors. The upstairs features rooms with north face glazing from floor to ceiling; however, architect Alex Liddell has angled the roof to allow illumination to enter from the south. Interestingly, the main foyer overlooks the River Clyde.
The theatre box office will be based at the site and its operating hours will include weekends. In addition, the building will provide better access for disabled visitors, including disabled parking bays and ramped access. Full access throughout the new facility will be provided by internal lifts.
The centre is fitted with sprinkler and alarm systems, including security lighting and CCTV.
Greenock Arts Guild Ltd Artistic Director, Julie Ellen, said:
“The existing building was built in 1950 and would need electrical rewiring as well as plumbing and heating work, as it is no longer compliant with today’s standards. In 2006 the Arts Guild raised the money for a design consultancy to look at upgrading the existing building in Campbell Street.
“After much consideration, the team concluded that the most effective and affordable way forward would be to construct a new building instead of attempting to refurbish this one. This gives us the opportunity to move from a residential area to a more central site, where we can create a landmark project for the region in the process.”
An early difficulty involved unexpected water ingress into the foundations; however this was dealt with quickly and did not cause further disruptions. Extreme weather conditions experienced in December 2011 also hampered some activities.
By developing a state-of-the-art centre it is believed that the Beacon will attract a much broader cross-section of the Inverclyde community.
Julie Ellen said: “It’s a rare treat to open a new arts centre in Scotland, so it is a testament to all the partners and directors who have come together to provide a public facility of this kind.
“The Beacon is aimed at everybody and we have a number of initiatives in place to provide more for the young people of Inverclyde.
“A project like this is a landmark development in Greenock and we hope to create a huge impact with the building once it opens.”
Work is progressing well on the site, with the project due to reach completion in July 2012.