Facing heat from employees, Churchgate to lose glass facade

Nearly two years ago, the iconic Churchgate railway station building, a towering seven-storey structure, received a swanky new exterior, its façade being draped in glass panels. While those who pass through its portals in course of their commutes lauded the makeover, there was one group that vociferously protested against the costly renovation — heat-stricken WR employees who work in the offices that the building encloses and the glass façade stifles.

Greenhouse effect? It has been reported earlier that ever since the draping of the building was completed, employees have been fuming, as they have had to sweat it out in their glass house. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Now, curbing to continuous pressure from employee unions, the administration has finally decided to remove the glass panels and replace them with something that would provide ventilation. The glass panels had been installed at a cost of Rs 2 crore of the taxpayers’ money, two years ago. It has been reported earlier that even since the draping of the building was completed, employees have been fuming, as they have had to sweat it out in their glass house.

“We aren’t removing the glass panels entirely. We will be replacing only those glass panels which obstruct the window panes,” said a senior WR official, on condition of anonymity. The problematic panels will be replaced by smaller tilting glass panes, so as to allow the passage of air and the entry of sunlight. Exultant notice boards have already been posted at the entrance to the station building by the unions, announcing their victory. “The glass façade created acute ventilation problems as it was placed right in front of the windows. We have been protesting ever since work began, though the administration claimed that they had undertaken a survey to check the feasibility,” said a member of Western Railway Employees’ Union, on condition of anonymity.

For long, the unions have been complaining that the authorities should have spent the money on improving the leaky pipes and taps inside toilets, cleaning out paan stains and re-painting the office walls. The building’s costly image overhaul, which involved installing a 16,145 sq ft façade with shatterproof glass, began in December 2010. The glass shell reportedly filters out 13 per cent of light and 90 per cent of ultraviolet (UV) rays. The new glass panes will be placed 1.8 metres from the building walls to allow ventilation. Officials claim that these would also bring down temperatures inside the building, obviating the need for fans and air conditioners. Nitin David, spokesperson, WR said, “We will be able to say something only when there is a written order to remove this glass façade”.

Did you know?
Churchgate station is the first railway building in the country to flaunt a glass exterior, as part of a R20-cr makeover project. Similar railway buildings are found in Germany, Australia and Japan. 

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