Stewart Kaye, 1935, with later additions. 5-storey monumental U-plan symmetrical development of shops, offices (now subdivided into flats) and cinema, with Modern Movement details. Steel frame and composition brick with polished sandstone ashlar (Blaxter Quarry, Northumberland) to principal elevations. Polished granite base course and band courses to ground of E and N elevations; 1st floor channelled with bracketted band course above; giant 3-storey architraves uniting 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor windows of each bay; cornice; parapet.
E (PRINCIPAL, LOTHIAN ROAD) ELEVATION: 31 bays: 3 to each pavilion at corner and in centre; 2 intermediate sections of 10 bays; canted bays to outer right and left. Corner pavilions and ground storey advanced, forming balcony to 1st floor of intermediate bays; pilasters between shopfronts. To right of centre at ground, main entrance to flats; grey polished granite doorpiece with Art Deco mouldings; 2-leaf boarded door with kite-shaped glazing panels and brass fittings; 3-light fanlight with decorative ironwork and bronze cipher. Fluted frieze above granite band courses; balcony to 1st floor windows between outer pavilions. Central pavilion slightly advanced above ground floor; carved stone panel to bracketted band course depicts canal workers; carries motto 'Here stood Port Hopetoun, 1822-1922'; above glazing, 2 stylised stone finials supported on brackets. Corner pavilions: plain ashlar plaques to centre of bracketted band course; 2 stylised stone finials supported on brackets above glazing. Cornice and recessed blocking course to canted bays.
N (SIDE, FOUNTAINBRIDGE) ELEVATION: corner pavilion to outer right; 12 bays extending to left, only 3 original; chamfered bay to Semple Street with polished grey granite doorway to ground. All of corresponding format to principal elevation.
S (SIDE, MORRISON STREET) ELEVATION: corner pavilion to outer left; 3-storey range extending to Semple Street; black glazed tiles to ground floor; 3 recessed entrances, to outer right and left, and to centre; single windows to channelled 1st floor; 2 single windows to left of 2nd floor.
W (REAR, SEMPLE STREET) ELEVATION: 4 bays to outer right corresponding to front elevation. Adjoining block 9 bays; 4 bays to right 2-storey, 5 bays to left 3-storey; 2 recessed doorways to ground; 1st floor channelled; modern block to left; plain masonry rear of cinema to outer left.
2 cast-iron panels with motifs in relief (designed by C d'O Pilkington Jackson) vertically separate glazing of upper 3 stories. Steel-framed windows (supplied by Frederick Braby & Co, Glasgow) to upper floors. Flat roof (originally concrete covered with "Namastic" rock asphalt) to shops and offices; grey slate piended roof to cinema.
Statement of Special Interest
Impressive monumental classical office building, occupying entire length of street. Designed for Sir Albert Ball (Nottingham) Ltd, and built on the site of the Port Hopetoun terminal of the Union Canal. A scheme for the site, drawn up by Robert Mayhew, appears to have been rejected in 1934. Stewart Kaye's initial proposals including a large hotel along Morrison Street and a 3000-seat cinema, entered from Lothian Road, were conceived with government use in mind; the first tenants included the Inland Revenue. The hotel was never built, but the site was subsequently taken up by the Regal Cinema and renamed the ABC in 1969. The cinema was closed in 2000 with the auditorium demolished and redeveloped as offices and a small multiplex cinema (CTA, 2008).
References and notes updated as part of the Cinemas Thematic Study 2007-08.