Posted on Monday 31 October 2011 by Ulster Business
The architectural practice that designed Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping centre has announced it is closing its office in Northern Ireland.
Confirming the slump in the local property sector, BDP said it was closing its Belfast studio because of a “significantly diminished” workload as a consequence of the economic downturn – a situation it said shows “no signs of improving in Northern Ireland”.
Manchester-headquartered BDP has had a presence in the city since 1965 when it was appointed to prepare the Belfast Central Area Plan and at one point during the property boom of the mid 2000s it had over 100 staff here.
It is intended that the studio will close by the end of the year and BDP said that a consultation process had begun for the 18 members of staff who remain.
Sandy Fergusson head of the Belfast studio said: “We deeply regret the need for this course of action which has been arrived at despite the considerable efforts of all concerned over the past two years. The decision has been a difficult and painful one, felt even more keenly given BDP’s history in Northern Ireland and especially in Belfast.”
BDP’s most recent high profile project in Belfast is the Victoria Square retail development, and its exit will be seen as a worrying indicator of the prospects that similar major projects will be undertaken locally in the near future.
Other prominent buildings it has worked on over the years have included the Northern Bank HQ in Donegall Square, The George Best Belfast City Airport, the Laganside masterplan followed by the Bus Centre, Castlecourt shopping centre and, especially pertinent for architects, PLACE Architecture & Built Environment Centre in Fountain Street. BDP’s own offices are shared with IBM at no 2 Bruce Street.
BDP has also carried out many projects across Northern Ireland, most notably especially in the planning and education sectors.
The company said it was continuing to win work elsewhere in the UK and has to some extent been buffered by its success in overseas markets especially in China and India.