There are two ways to deal with an overwhelming upsurge in people power.
When it becomes irresistible, you can either embrace it gladly or reluctantly accede.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport's grudging concession that it had been wrong to begin removing metal arches at Cessnock underground station in Glasgow was a masterclass in the latter approach. Admitting it had overlooked local attachment to the arches, SPT said sniffily: "The signs are not of architectural significance … [but] they are valued by the local community".
Described by SPT as a "pastiche" of Alexander "Greek" Thomson, the signs became the focus of an online and offline campaign to prevent their removal.
They were eloquently defended in The Herald's letters page by their creator, architect Lachie Munro, who pointed out that the "Greek" in Alexander Thomson's name referred to his own inclination to borrow from the past.
SPT's goals were to make the station more identifiable and improve accessibility and there is nothing wrong with that. But it is worth remembering in designing urban streetscapes that utility and modernity are one thing. People also value playfulness and an emotional link to the places they know.
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