Director of Heritage Chris Henry provides an update on the project to restore the College’s ‘Playfair’ Building. Anyone visiting the RCSEd at the moment will notice that the College’s main building – the Playfair – is encased in a new skin of steel poles and nylon netting. This is the strongest evidence yet that the Lister Project is forging ahead.
The stonework repairs, going on behind the screens, require an intimate mixture of technical know-how and skill built up over many years. The building is being cleaned and treated so that its future is assured. Years of pollution and pests have taken their toll on the delicate stonework since the last repairs were carried out in the 1990s. The College is fortunate to have conservation architect Andrew Wright to oversee the works along with stonemasons Stone Restore. The conservation of the intricate decorative work will be carried out by stone conservator Graciela Ainsworth.
After working for five years at the College, I was lucky to go up on the scaffolding with site manager Tam Douglas for a close-up look at the stonework. As you can see from the images, many repairs have been carried out over the years, and later repairs are highlighted by the changes in the colour of the stone. What is striking is the very high level of craftsmanship that is exhibited on the honeysuckle carvings on the portico. It is quite clear that William Playfair expected a great deal from the masons who worked for him in 1832. The Lister Project is due for completion in September 2015.
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