NEWS

Stadiou St: The missing facelift

Last week, the fire brigade received an urgent call about a blaze in one of the capital’s most noble ruins, the neoclassical Athenogenes Mansion, near the Omonia end of Stadiou Street. The fire, which did not cause severe structural damage to the striking building, probably started in the heaps of rubbish that have accumulated over years of neglect in the once-elegant mansion. But it highlighted yet another missed opportunity for Athens ahead of the August 13-29 Olympics. Many of the city’s erstwhile architectural gems, which have fallen into varying stages of disrepair in recent decades, were initially meant to have been renovated – if not properly conserved – in order to prettify the city’s Olympic image. But the Athenogenes Mansion never made it, in stark contrast with a large shopping complex next door that is being speedily refurbished. Further up Stadiou, on the corner with Amerikis Street, two dilapidated neoclassical houses have also missed their date with the renovation teams. Just across Stadiou, a couple of neoclassical buildings that were integrated in a modern structure now house a Habitat store. Another successful combination of refurbishment with commercial use is the 1930s Army Fund building that occupies the block between Stadiou, Amerikis, Panepistimiou and Voukourestiou streets, which will soon be unveiled as a shopping mall. On the corner of Stadiou and Korai streets, a large neoclassical building is rapidly turning into a Zara clothing complex. On Syntagma Square, the shell of the King George Hotel has at last been rebuilt with a classicizing facade. However, the authentic neoclassical building on the corner of Karageorgi Servias and Syntagma Square remains a sad study in neglect.