The Lloyd's building, London

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The Lloyd's building, London

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:55 pm

Lloyd's building joins Grade I elite at tender age of 25

Heritage minister's decision puts Richard Rogers's hi-tech design in the top 2.5% of all listed buildings

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 December 2011 20.06 GMT


The Lloyds building in London. Photograph: Alamy

Richard Rogers's hi-tech, postmodern Lloyd's building, with its pipes, lifts and toilets presented on the outside, has become one of only a few modern buildings to be given Grade I listed status.

The decision, by the heritage minister, John Penrose, puts the building in the top 2.5% of all listed buildings. It now has the sort of protection given to St Paul's Cathedral and Windsor Castle.

The listing was recommended by English Heritage. Its designation director, Roger Bowdler, said it was "fitting recognition of the sheer splendour of Richard Rogers's heroic design. Its dramatic scale and visual dazzle, housing a hyper-efficient commercial complex, is universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch."

Bowdler said its listing, which provides substantial protection but did not mean it is "pickled in aspic", had been enthusiastically supported. Penrose said the Lloyd's building "stands the test of time with its awe-inspiring futuristic design, which exemplifies the hi-tech style in Britain. It clearly merits the extra protection against unsuitable alteration or development that listing provides."

The Lloyd's building was opened in 1986, built after the success Rogers, with Renzo Piano, had with that other great inside-outside building, the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Providing a headquarters for Lloyd's of London, it manages to be both head-turningly futuristic and resolutely traditional. It includes the traditions and fabric of earlier Lloyd's buildings, not least the Adam Room, which was moved from Bowood House in Wiltshire, and the Lutine Bell, which was once rang to indicate an "overdue" ship but is these days is only used for ceremonial occasions.

It is one of only a handful of postwar buildings and structures to be given Grade I listing, joining Basil Spence's Coventry Cathedral (listed in 1988) Norman Foster's Willis Corroon Building in Ipswich (listed in 1991) and the Severn Bridge (listed in 1998).

Lloyd's chief executive, Richard Ward, said: "The building remains modern, innovative and unique – it has really stood the test of time just like the market that sits within it. This listing decision will protect the building against unsuitable alteration or development while retaining its flexibility to adapt within the market's needs."

Lord Rogers's practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said in a statement that the listing was an honour: "It is important to conserve buildings of architectural and historical significance, and the work of English Heritage is central to that. It is also of vital importance for buildings to remain flexible spaces which meet the changing needs of those who live or work in them. English Heritage has recognised this, ensuring the spirit of the original design is retained while the building remains adaptable in the future."

At the other end of the heritage timeline, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport also announced that the early Mesolithic settlement Star Carr, near Scarborough – which contains what may be the earliest building in Britain – is being made a scheduled monument because of its rarity and archeological importance. The status gives the site an extra layer of protection against unauthorised change.

eddie
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Re: The Lloyd's building, London

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:58 pm

How we learned to love the Lloyds building

Richard Rogers' 'bowellist' creation in the heart of London has been Grade-I listed


The Lloyds Building. Photograph: Alamy

Twenty-five years young, the Lloyd's building is still shockingly new. Yesterday it was announced that this hi-tech City of London tour-de-force, designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, has been listed Grade I by heritage minister John Penrose. The youngest to be granted that special status, it joins company with a select band of postwar buildings including the Royal Festival Hall and Coventry Cathedral.

Lloyds is also the first Grade I-listed building designed specifically for change. While listing protects historic monuments from insensitive alteration, the whole point of this late 20th-century reworking of Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace, crossed with a North Sea oil-rig, is the flexible space it offers, and the promise that, one day, it might be re-arranged as easily as if it had been assembled from Meccano.

The inside-out, or "bowellist", look of the 88-metre high concrete structure, with its external wall-climbing glass lifts, exposed pipework and plug-in, stainless steel clad lavatory pods, is graphic evidence of the way this breathtaking ensemble was clipped together like a giant kit of parts.

Naturally, Lloyds has never been to everyone's taste – too much like an oil-refinery thumped down next to Wren's City churches and Neo-Classical banks clad in Portland stone – and its provocative design is all the more remarkable given that it was commissioned by and for apparently conservative, pin-striped City types.

With its soaring central atrium, the radical, open-plan interior is nothing short of sensational. Even then, it abounds in surprises. High up in the building, a door opens to reveal a complete Robert Adam boardroom of the 1760s, representing most people's idea of what Grade I listed buildings look like. Attitudes to modern architecture have clearly changed.

The biggest change of all since then, however, has been among conservationists themselves: in the 1980s, they tended to see Lloyds as a modern monstrosity. Now they love it.

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Re: The Lloyd's building, London

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:48 am

The Lloyd's building is a time machine

A monument to 'high-tech', the Lloyd's of London building marries the capitalism of gentlemen with that of the industrialists

Owen Hatherley

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 December 2011 14.19 GMT


The Lloyd's building has received Grade I listed status. Photograph: Geoff Moore/Rex Features

Richard Rogers's 1986 headquarters for the insurers Lloyd's of London has just been listed Grade I. This makes it, along with the Royal Festival Hall, one of the few 20th-century structures to be placed at the same level as, say, St Paul's. But, like the gothic cathedrals it so closely resembles, Lloyd's was not meant to be an entirely finished product. Look up to the top of its facade, and you'll find cranes are still there, left when construction ended, to make clear it could still be extended up and outwards. The gothic cathedrals did grow in this manner, but then they didn't get preservation orders 25 years after they were built.

There should be no doubt whatsoever that Lloyd's deserves its listing. But for a building so famous, Lloyd's is not well served by writers and historians. It is usually interpreted in one of two completely inadequate ways. For many, it's a metallic embodiment of the Big Bang, a Thatcherite machine for underwriting. In architectural history, it's a monument to "high-tech", a style that arose in the mid 1970s as a sort of last flicker from the white heat of the technological revolution, at the hands of currently ennobled architects – Lord Foster of Thames Bank, Lord Rogers of Riverside. High-tech, or a version of it, has been the dominant form of architecture in the UK for two decades, though you can read a lot from the change in its functions: in the 70s most of the above were designing factories. Now they design office blocks, cultural centres and luxury flats with a still residual "industrial aesthetic", including the world's most expensive One Hyde Park.

Lloyd's captures the tensions between industrialism and the "new economy" of financial services, then tries to resolve them. Before Rogers, the insurers were housed in a neoclassical building built as late as the 50s – an embodiment of a practically unchanging British gentlemanly capitalism. It was meant to reassure, to look eternal. If the 1986 replacement evokes any previously existing buildings of any kind, then they're industrial, almost temporary structures – oil refineries, or the North Sea oil rigs built off the east coast of Scotland in the 70s, much beloved of high-tech architects. These are visually striking because of sheer utility, because their functional parts are in no way sheathed or hidden, and because the refining process requires the baffling, twisting intricacies of pipes and gantries. The North Sea oil that kept Thatcherism secure in its confrontations with the unions provided inadvertent inspiration for the aesthetic of the City itself at the exact point it was let off the leash.

Lloyd's marks the point in British architecture where industrial features became something to enjoy in and of themselves; not coincidentally the point where industry itself faced forcible decimation. Maybe those bared ducts, those moving parts, those steel surfaces and gigantic, top-lit open spaces for working in were all some kind of unacknowledged appeasing of the gods of industry. It's also possible that Lloyd's was and is especially thrilling for people who have never worked in a factory, the only other kind of place where services are habitually left uncovered, in those places because "nobody" is looking.

What makes Lloyd's such a bizarre place, however, is seeing how the underwriters have conserved so many elements of their atavistic previous existence. These remnants were scattered around the new building, decontextualised fragments ripped from 1763, 1799, 1925 and 1958, rudely riveted onto the ducts and pipes. There's the antiquated uniforms worn by the service staff; the front facade of their earlier neoclassical offices is held up like a severed head. Inside, the Lutine Bell sits at the foot of the enormous, multilevel trading floor and, strangest of all, a complete 18th century dining room by Robert Adam was preserved and recreated.

At first, it seems like these are tokens kept on a sort of reservation of gentlemanly capitalism in order to placate the old guard. After a while you realise that what is really happening here is more like a marriage, a reconciliation, a mockery of the notion that there should be any difference or hostility between the capitalism of gentlemen and the capitalism of industrialists.

Inside the Adam Room, Lloyd's of London are still the organisation that built itself on the slave trade; it's a time machine that physically brings "old corruption" back to the site of its inception. British capitalism plays at modernisation, but keeps this place in reserve, as its ancestral home. Now, Lloyd's itself will be kept as a time capsule, a structure that can receive only the tiniest changes. When future generations want to know what happened to power in Britain in the 1980s, their questions will be answered here.

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