STGA Blue Badge guides have been out and about this week and were fortunate enough to have been shown round the brand new St James Quarter, located in the centre of Edinburgh at the east end of Princes Street. This £1 billion development has been under construction for five years, and replaces the concrete carbuncle that was the 1960s St James Centre (regularly dubbed one of the ugliest buildings in the city!) and the equally unattractive New St Andrews House office block.
The impressive 850,000sq ft centre is home to a vast array of shops and restaurants, including Edinburgh’s first Lego shop and Europe’s largest new Zara store. Scotland’s first W Hotel, with its controversial ribbon design, is also part of the complex and is set to open later this year.
However there is still a nod to the past to be found amongst the shiny new glass and modern architecture. A large block of sandstone which commemorates the founding of the original St James Square in the late 18th century has been carefully preserved and is incorporated into the Leith Street entrance of the new building.