The Gallery: King's Cross prepares for big reveal
Designed by architect Stanton Williams, the square is big enough to accommodate Big Ben clock tower laid down lengthways and it has new entrances to London Underground, an area dedicated to public art, and lighting features. Three 19m tall LED lighting towers are mimicked by six smaller ones to light the area at night, while the façade will be uplit.
NCE visited King’s Cross this week ahead of the formal opening of the public square in front of the refurbished station, which began its big reveal last year in time for the Olympic Games.
The 7,000m2 square is the final part of the £550M redevelopment of King’s Cross station to be completed and follows the renovation of the original station building and its platforms and the construction of the spectacular new western concourse, which opened to passengers in March 2012.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, London mayor Boris Johnson and Network Rail’s chief executive David Higgins this morning declared the new King’s Cross Square officially open. The occasion was marked by the pulling of a Victorian railway signal lever and explosion of streamer canons.
Johnson said: “The transformation of King’s Cross is not only beautiful but it has also triggered all sorts of regeneration, with new jobs, huge numbers of homes being built and businesses relocating here. What has emerged is a fantastic open space which has led to the creation of a whole new vibrant district. It is the perfect example of a point I have always made, if you support good transport links the jobs and growth will follow.”
Higgins added: “The investment into the station’s redevelopment has been a catalyst for more than £2.2bn of private investment to the area, an area that is swiftly becoming one of our capitals’ most vibrant and thriving places to be.
Last year, King’s Cross station saw the opening of the brand new western concourse, providing rail passengers three-and-a-half times more space than the 1970s concourse that it replaced. Since the new concourse opened, passenger satisfaction at the station has increased by 33%.
King’s Cross Square – key features include:
- 7,000m2 of space
- Two improved entrances to London Underground
- Two new retail units
- An area dedicated to public art – details of a high profile installation to be announced soon
- 19 new trees
- Solid granite benches
- A stunning lighting scheme
Restoring the station
The Grade I listed building, designed by Lewis Cubitt in 1852, has been restored in partnership with English Heritage: the facade will be revealed for the first time in 150 years and original features have been retained to safeguard the architectural integrity of the station.
King’s Cross station redevelopment
Since work started in 2007, Network Rail has built a new platform (Platform 0), built the new concourse, restored the Eastern and Western Range offices, which run the length of the station, and replaced the historic Handyside bridge with an accessible footbridge. To date, not a single train has been cancelled due to the work. The new concourse has provided improved facilities including better lighting, larger destination boards, clearer station announcements and more shops and restaurants.