The building named simply 192 Shoreham Street is perhaps not quite perfect: the bottom two floors are still without a tenant, the super-modern sinks make washing one’s hands unfeasibly difficult and its appearance hasn’t impressed everyone.
“Awful,” is how one letter to The Star described it.
But this city centre complex - a 19th century coachworks redeveloped into offices and restaurant space - has been officially named Sheffield’s best new building.
“Those flaws?” ponders Jonny Ford, whose animation company is based there. “I think of the building like an Alfa Romeo - it’s got the odd minor quirk but it’s still completely superior.”
Judges at the prestigious Sheffield Design Awards 2012, it seems, agreed.
They liked how the old industrial hub, including a 19th century lifting beam, had been retained and restored, while a radical extension had been added atop. The mezzanine restaurant (“hopefully opening spring”) and trio of offices - each complete with balconies, apartment-quality kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows - added to the chutzpah.
“It reflects both the area’s industrial heritage and its aspirations for the future as part of the Cultural Industrial Quarters,” noted panel chairman David Howarth.
And that meant the building beat competition from, among others, the Arts Tower revamp and the South Street Amphitheatre to be awarded the prestigious biennial Sheffield Civic Trust prize.
It follows The Workshop, in Kenwood Park Road, Sharrow, which won in 2010.
“How does it feel?” says Christopher Ash, the Broomhill-raised architect whose London-based company Project Orange is behind the place. “It’s an honour.
“I grew up in Sheffield in the Seventies and it’s great to help with the city’s regeneration. I think buildings like this show you don’t just have to knock the old down and replace it with horrible flats.”
The offices, which have all been occupied, were specially designed for creative minds, he adds.
“I’ve never understood why offices are awful, fluorescent-lit places when people spend so much time there. I wanted to make these somewhere you’d be happy to stay late.”
Jonny Ford again: “Basically, I’d live here if I could.”
His seven-staff company, Finger Industry Ltd, moved in when the building opened in the summer.
“We were previously in The Cube down the road,” he says. “But this, it’s probably nicer than my house. You can’t help but be inspired by it. It deserves the prize.”
The other winners
THE Best Building Award 2012 went to 192 Shoreham Street but it wasn’t the only winner at the Sheffield Design Awards. Others were:
People’s Choice (voted by public): Arts Tower, in Bolsover Street, refurbished by HLM Architects.
Best Small Project: Horsefield House, in Taptonville Crescent, by Prue Chiles Architects.
Best Conservation: Arts Tower.
Commendations: New House, in Stumperlowe Crescent Road, by Sagar Stevenson Architects; Parkwood Academy, in Shirecliffe, by HLM Architects; and Marks & Spencer Simply Food, in Ecclesall Road, by Lewis & Hickey.