Somerset House, Rawson Street, Halifax
Halifax Civic Trust, backed by Calderdale Council, led the charge to restore this splendid building and (in a way more importantly) to open it to public view by demolishing the row of shops that had obscured it for almost the whole of the twentieth century. The interiors, including the Rococo saloon with its fine plasterwork, have been brought back to life with advice from experts such as Charles Brooking and Patrick Baty. But the scheme has its greatest power as metaphor: it speaks of civic pride, the celebration of public buildings, public reengagement with historic buildings and the use of architectural heritage to stimulate urban renaissance. Halifax at its zenith knew the power of great buildings, and this scheme gives hope that the lesson has not been forgotten. Sceptics may say that Halifax cannot afford to restore its great buildings in straitened times. In fact Halifax cannot afford not to, because restoration brings renaissance in its wake. We are truly delighted to see Somerset House recover its rightful place alongside the Town Hall, the Piece Hall and The Square Chapel as one of the jewels of Halifax.
43 King Street/3 Freckleton Street, Blackburn; Molineux Hotel, Wolverhampton; Varden Street/Turner Street, Whitechapel