Headquarters of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, 1890-3, by John Belcher with sculptural work by Hamo Thornycroft and Harry Bates. Portland stone. Free Baroque style. 1930-1 extension in the same style by JJ Joass, with sculptural work by JA Stevenson. 1966-70 Brutalist extension designed in 1964 by William Whitfield with Lowe & Rodin as structural engineers, reinforced concrete and granite
Reasons for Designation
Chartered Accountants' Hall, including the Joass extension of 1930-1 and the Whitfield extension of 1966-70, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is an imposing landmark building incorporating John Belcher's exuberant original 1890-3 building, one of the finest examples of Victorian Baroque architecture, which is enhanced by Joass' complementary extension, and juxtaposed by Whitfield's bold Brutalist design, providing a dramatic contrast between the old and new;
* Sculptural interest: the ornate Baroque elements of the building can be regarded as much as sculpture as they are architecture, incorporating works by the renowned sculptors Hamo Thornycroft and Harry Bates amongst others, whilst the bush-hammered concrete of Whitfield's extension provides an alternative modern form of sculptural interest;
* Interior quality and survival: the building utilises high-quality materials and craftsmanship throughout and contains numerous interior features of special note from its varying phases, including Belcher's former Council Chamber, former library, entrance hall, and imposing main stair; and Whitfield's Great Hall, concrete ceilings with lozenge-shaped coffering, and bush-hammered concrete wall treatments;
* Constructional innovation: the Whitfield extension has a highly innovative construction that suspends the office floors above the Great Hall, thereby enabling the provision of an uninterrupted interior space uncluttered by supports;
* Contextual architecture: the design of the successive phasing of the building marks a turning point in contextual architecture, retaining the original Belcher element at a time of much destruction in the City, and anticipating the critical re-evaluation of neo-Baroque architecture by Alastair Service and others in the 1970s.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) was established by Royal Charter in 1880 and was formed by the amalgamation of the five professional bodies of accountants in England - the Incorporated Society of Liverpool Accountants (1870), Institute of Accountants in London (1870), Manchester Institute of Accountants (1871), Society of Accountants in England (1872), and the Sheffield Institute of Accountants (1877).
In 1888 the Institute bought a restricted site off Moorgate in the City of London for the construction of a headquarters building. The foundation stone for the Chartered Accountants’ Hall was laid on 8 July 1890 by JJ Saffey, President of the Institute. The building was designed by John Belcher who won an open competition for the commission, assessed by Alfred Waterhouse. The building’s sculptural work was by Hamo Thornycroft and Harry Bates, and it was constructed by Colls & Sons. In 1930-1 the building was extended to the designs of JJ Joass, Belcher’s successor in practice, with sculptural work by JA Stevenson.
In 1957 the Institute merged with the Society of Incorporated Accountants and membership vastly increased over the next few years. As a result, additional office accommodation and member facilities were required. In 1959 William Whitfield was commissioned to report on the feasibility of erecting a new building elsewhere in the City. He concluded that the most appropriate site was actually adjacent to the existing hall, and thus by 1965 the freeholds of the neighbouring buildings had been acquired. The new extension was required to marry in character and access with the older parts of the building, and had to provide a Great Hall to accommodate 400 people. In 1964 Whitfield’s final design was approved and construction by Holland & Hannen and Cubitts Ltd. began in November 1966. A topping out ceremony was held in July 1969 led by the then President of the Institute, (Sir) Ronald George Leach, and on 6 May 1970 the new extension was opened by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The new extension cost nearly £2.5 million and provided an additional 63,500 sq ft of space, more than tripling the size of the previous accommodation. It was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Concrete Society in 1971.
In 1988 Whitfield Partners carried out improvement and renovation works to the hall’s entrances at Moorgate Place and Copthall Avenue, and internally to the bookshop, main reception room and Members’ Room.
Headquarters of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, 1890-3, by John Belcher with sculptural work by Hamo Thornycroft and Harry Bates. Portland stone. Free Baroque style. 1930-1 extension in the same style by JJ Joass, with sculptural work by JA Stevenson. 1966-70 Brutalist extension designed in 1964 by William Whitfield with Lowe & Rodin as structural engineers, reinforced concrete and granite.
PLAN: the building has a rectangular plan formed by the rectangular block of Belcher’s building facing Moorgate Place to the west, with Joass’ and Whitfield’s extensions set at a right angle and running eastwards along Great Swan Alley. The main part of Whitfield’s extension occupies the north-east corner of the site facing Copthall Avenue to the east and Langthorn Court to the north. The Joass and Whitfield extensions alongside Great Swan Alley splay outward slightly towards the eastern end.
WEST ELEVATION: the 9-bay front (west) elevation of Belcher’s 1890-3 building facing Moorgate Place is of 3-storeys plus basement. The ground floor bays are separated by banded Tuscan columns arranged in threes, and the windows have a glazing-bar arrangement that includes a central open-pedimented light. The main entrance is set to the centre of the front elevation and consists of a large porch with paired banded Tuscan columns supporting an open scrolled pediment containing a large cartouche depicting the Institute’s coat of arms, which is held up by two classical male figures. The doorway itself is recessed with heavy bronze doors with a relief roundel design, and has a keyed fanlight above with plain glazing. The first-floor windows have shaped flat hoods supported on carved consoles; the three to the far left, which light the former Council Chamber, also have semi-circular lights above and decorative metal grilles attached to the lower part of the window. Below the first-floor windows is a continuous sill band in the form of a dentilled cornice interrupted by caryatids by Harry Bates. The second-floor bays, which are separated by engaged Tuscan columns, contain arched multipaned windows with margin lights set within elaborate surrounds incorporating Gibbs-style jambs and varying shaped heads. Set beneath the second-floor windows is a sculptured frieze by Hamo Thornycroft that cost £3000 and symbolises all the activities that have benefitted from the service of accountants. The three frieze panels to the far left represent the arts, sciences and crafts and are depicted as female figures in classical dress, whilst the elevation’s remaining panels depict figures in contemporary dress representing education, commerce, manufactures, agriculture and mining; all the panels have a central figure in classical dress bearing the name of the subject on a tablet. Set to the top of the elevation is an entablature. The building’s south-west corner is angled and maintains the styling of the front elevation. A massive carved corbel by Harry Bates incorporating the arms of the Institute and two figure brackets supports a pillared oriel above. The oriel’s dome is surmounted by a blindfolded figure of Justice by Hamo Thornycroft, which stands in front of a tall niche and by her feet are truncated figures representing accountants, which carry on the frieze.
SOUTH ELEVATION: the south side elevation facing Great Swan Alley consists of three return bays in the same style as those to the front elevation with Thornycroft’s frieze panels representing the railways, shipping, and India and the colonies. The building then reduces in height from 3-storeys to a lower 2-storeys plus attic due to ‘ancient lights’ restrictions. An octagonal turret is placed at the change in height and has an open-domed cupola that gives access to the roof. The first 3-bays of this lower section form the original extent of Belcher’s building, and again share the same styling as the front elevation. However, above the first-floor windows, and set below a bracketed eaves, is a continuous frieze by Thornycroft that depicts professions and trades associated with building, and ends with depictions of Belcher and Thornycroft. Occupying the third bay is an elaborate Palladian entrance with an empty niche above that was originally intended to contain a seated bronze statue of Queen Victoria. Roof dormers light the attic level. The next 6-bays are formed by Joass’ 1930-1 extension and are carried on in the style of Belcher’s building; the only difference being that the caryatids have 1930s hairstyles. The frieze extension was executed by J A Stevenson and depicts a further 31 figures representing the history of building from prehistory to the C20, including depictions of Joass and Stevenson. The 3-bays to the far right of the south elevation are also in the same style, but were added by Whitfield in 1966-70; the only difference here being that instead of a continuous frieze Whitfield has instead incorporated three sculptural panels by David McFall, which depict the Institute’s Victorian founders, ancient Egyptian scribes, and the invention of double-entry book-keeping in Renaissance Italy.
EAST ELEVATION: the east return facing Copthall Avenue has an ornate entrance portal by Whitfield in the style of Belcher and then the architectural styling dramatically changes to a Brutalist idiom. The main part of Whitfield’s 1966-70 extension, which occupies the north-east corner of the site, is of 7-storeys plus two basement levels. Five floors of offices are suspended above a Great Hall from two parallel pre-stressed concrete beams at roof level, which are supported by four pillars on the outside of the Great Hall, enabling the provision of an uninterrupted interior space uncluttered by supports. The extension’s east elevation, which lies adjacent to the Belcher-style entrance on Copthall Avenue, has Louis Kahn-style lift and staircase towers with vertical-groove bush-hammered concrete walls flanking a glazed entrance bay; the stair changes orientation at the third-floor level and this marks a change in the external treatment where the stair tower then has a corrugated cladding. To the right of the lift tower are a series of blind boxes (containing the extension’s toilet facilities) clad in polished grey granite that are separated by wide rebates (providing a modern take on the rustication of the building's Baroque elements); the first-floor level is fully glazed and lights the Great Hall’s east foyer. The ground-floor level is set back below and is also glazed, lighting the entrance foyer. Set to the north-east corner above street level is a cantilevered stair projection containing the stair leading up to the Great Hall. The projection is of reinforced concrete with individual steps and quarter landings expressed in the soffit. Rising above is a bush-hammered concrete service tower, which is also replicated at the western end.
NORTH ELEVATION: to the ground floor of the north elevation facing Langthorn Court is a service/loading bay. Above, the north end of the Great Hall projects outwards as a cantilevered box with tall narrow slit windows set between pre-cast concrete mullions. The upper office floors, which are also identically styled on the extension's south elevation, are lit by strip windows of reflective glass and the floor levels denoted by polished granite bands; the higher floors are cantilevered out.
INTERIOR: Belcher’s 1890-3 building retains some original Tobasco mahogany doors, partitions and panelling, and has doorcases and architraves of varying style, including shouldered and pedimented, many of which are ornate and some of which incorporate classical heads.
MAIN ENTRANCE & RECEPTION AREAS: the main entrance leads into a double-cubed saucer-domed vestibule containing two large and ornate marble plaques designed by Joass and executed by Messrs HH Martin & Co that were dedicated as a war memorial in May 1922 to those members of the Institute and articled clerks killed during the First World War. The vestibule in turn leads into a coffered barrel-vaulted entrance hall with arches and Tuscan piers and Ionic pilasters in Portland stone and a black and white patterned marble floor. A blind arch at the hall’s northern end contains a marble plaque inscribed with the names of past Institute Presidents set within a bronze Mannerist frame and a Portland-stone surround. Over the surround is a Baroque cartouche. Double doors in the north-west corner of the entrance hall lead into the former library, which occupies the northern end of the ground floor. The main stair, which is constructed of Portland stone, lies off to the north-east corner of the entrance hall. In 1930 a lift was inserted to the eastern side of the entrance hall in former office space and toilets were added in the basement; an additional stairway was then created behind the lift shaft. The southern end of the entrance hall rises in floor level and is accessed via a series of steps. The side walls have blind Portland-stone doorways containing plaques recording the names of Presidents of the Institute (north wall), and the names of Secretaries and Chief Executives (south wall). A doorway with a classical doorcase leads into what is now the building’s reception area. This reception area*, which was created by opening up former offices at the southern end of the ground floor to form a single space is not of special interest.
FORMER LIBRARY: the original library is now known as the Members’ Room and has a square-coffered ceiling supported by paired Tuscan columns and an entablature of Portland stone. Two side galleries with a white-painted balustrade are supported by hybrid Ionic pillars and are linked by a balustraded Venetian-style bridge, which is decorated with two tall Venetian-style lanterns. A large Portland-stone fireplace surmounted by a bust of Belcher exists to the western end of the north wall; a corresponding fireplace at the eastern end of the room has been removed. The original bookcases have been removed.
MAIN STAIR: the main stair has paired Ionic marble columns on the half-landing level, where there are also two arched doorways leading into Whitfield’s Great Hall. The stair’s balustrade changes at different floor levels and includes a decorative painted-metal balustrade and a solid Portland stone balustrade. The stair was formerly lit by four stained-glass windows added by Henry Holiday, but these were removed to a chapel in Henstridge, Somerset when the Whitfield extension was added. A circular glass dome was also replaced by a shallow oval glazed dome at the same time. The four ICAEW Henry Holiday stained-glass windows were re-acquired by ICAEW in 2017 and all were reinstated at the main entrance to the Great Hall.
FIRST FLOOR: the first-floor corridor has a groined ceiling and a black and white patterned marble floor. A pedimented marble niche structure containing a bust of Queen Victoria by E Onslow Ford that now lies alongside the corridor’s west wall was originally located in the former Council Chamber’s eastern apse, but this had to be moved to the corridor when the Whitfield extension was added and a doorway inserted into its former location. Rooms off to the west side of the corridor include the former Committee Room, which is now known as the Small Meeting Room and has acanthus-leaf ceiling moulding (now gilded) and a bronze fireplace by Alfred Stevens.
FORMER COUNCIL CHAMBER: the former Council Chamber (now known as the Main Reception Room), which is based on the designs of early Renaissance churches, occupies the northern end of the first floor, but rises to the full height of the building; it now acts as an anteroom to the Great Hall in Whitfield’s extension. The room has a central domed crossing with galleried semi-circular apses at each end supported by Tuscan columns and piers. Frescoes added by George Murray in 1913-14 to designs by Belcher adorn most of the wall space, although some small areas are now painted over in the apses. A large fresco opposite the room’s entrance has a scene incorporating Eastern merchants and is ‘Science bringing order to Commerce’. The room’s entrance is set within an elaborate doorcase that projects into the room and is surmounted by a clock of 1893 by John Walker, which is set within a case painted by George Murray. Above the entrance is a large fresco depicting the ‘Triumph of Law’; Murray employed an enlarging effect by using pictures of the room as a background for his allegorical groups. The crossing has a saucer dome with multipaned glazing resting on a drum and covered by an octagonal skylight on the roof. The crossing’s pendentives are decorated with frescoes of Michaelangelo-esque classical figures representing ‘SAPIENTIA’, ‘VERITAS’, ‘PRUDENTIA’ AND ‘JUSTICIA’, as well as depictions of the coats of arms belonging to the cities of the Institute’s founding societies. Set around the base of the dome is a frescoed frieze depicting the signs of the zodiac. The dome has a galleried ambulatory with Ionic columns incorporating gilded capitals, which is accessed via steep wooden stairs off the main stair and west gallery. The apses contain small marble fireplaces and have stained-glass windows on both the floor level and galleries.
FORMER OAK HALL: the former Oak Hall is located on the second floor and was altered by Whitfield in 1966-70. Originally it was a double-height space that was classically decorated with fluted wall pilasters and wall panelling, but a concrete floor has since been inserted that incorporates lozenge-shaped coffering to the underside ceiling, and the decoration has been removed and replaced with bleached-oak panelling similar to that in Whitfield's Great Hall. The lower half of the room now forms the Council Chamber and tiered seating has been installed, whilst the upper half is now a series of interview rooms accessed via a short extension to the main stair. The room’s original shallow barrel-vaulted ceiling, which incorporated three large domed circular skylights and glazed oculi acting as a clerestory, has been replaced by a ceiling incorporating a series of small circular skylights that provide additional light into the interview rooms; the oculi survive.
JOASS' EXTENSION: Joass’ 1930-1 extension has been heavily altered internally and most of the spaces have been thoroughly modernised and some walls knocked through. A new library created on the ground floor in 1966-70, which also occupied part of Whitfield’s extension, is now office space. The interior of the Joass extension on all floor levels* is not of special interest.
WHITFIELD'S EXTENSION: The basement, ground and first floors of Whitfield’s 1966-70 extension are built in a conventional manner from the ground up, unlike the five upper floors, which are suspended above the Great Hall as detailed above. A number of original partly-glazed doors with large rectangular brass handles survive. The lift lobbies on each floor mirror the styling of the exterior and are of bush-hammered concrete. The main terrazzo dog-leg stair is cantilevered and appears to float due to the fact that it is only attached to the walls at the landing and half-landing levels. It is located to the south-east corner of the extension and has a steel railing balustrade. From the third floor upwards when the stair changes position and orientation and becomes enclosed, the balustrade is replaced by a timber and steel floating handrail.
ENTRANCE FOYER: the Copthall Avenue entrance foyer was originally double-height, but has now been floored over. It has an Italian brick floor arranged in a circular pattern around a black-marble centre (now hidden under later covering) and roughcast and bush-hammered concrete walls. The foyer’s original pink Morelena marble reception desk has been removed. A wide Portland-stone stair set to the north-east corner leads up to the Great Hall’s eastern foyer, which has some later removable partitions* that have been inserted to create storage areas; the later partitioning is not of special interest.
GREAT HALL: the Great Hall is located on the first floor and is a large space free of internal pillars due to the structure of the extension. Its floor, which rests partly on concrete load-bearing walls and is partly cantilevered, has a parquet covering. The ceiling sweeps upwards towards the north end of the hall and a top-lit dais (the skylights are now covered over) with its raking concrete ceiling beams exposed. The original lighting scheme survives. Full-height vertical slit windows at the north end of the hall are separated by concrete mullions and have hinged bleached-oak shutters. Bleached-oak panelling also exists to the northern half of the side walls, but is now hidden from view by later partitioning*; the later partitioning is not of special interest. The Great Hall originally had glazed walls and doors at each end, but these have since been replaced by taller solid doors* and partition walls*; these later doors and walls are not of special interest apart from the original brass door furniture that has been re-used on the doors. Later works of art installed in the Great Hall in the 1980s have since been removed, including two panels over the entrances by David Kindersley depicting the Institute’s coat of arms and the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants, and a tapestry by Eduardo Paolozzi that was produced in three vertical sections to hang between the panelling on the east wall. A perforated steel frieze by Charles Normandale added in 1983 that was attached to the concrete mullions of the north window has also been removed, along with coloured glass in a sunburst pattern by David Kindersley that was added to the windows at the same time. A foyer to the west of the Great Hall marks the division between the Belcher building and Whitfield’s extension. A flight of eight steps leads down from the Great Hall to a rusticated stone screen wall containing three round-arched doorways with prominent keystones above that gives the impression of an external wall. Two doors access the main stair in Belcher’s building, whilst the other door provides access into the Main Reception Room.
UPPER OFFICE FLOORS & BASEMENT: the Whitfield extension’s office floors* are largely open plan and are not of special interest, apart from the concrete ceilings with lozenge-shaped coffering (some now hidden by later suspended ceilings) and textured-concrete columns. A flat, which is believed to have occupied part of one of the upper floors and was used by the Presidents and Secretary, no longer survives, and has presumably been converted for office space. The basement restaurant* in the Whitfield extension and all other basement spaces* throughout the building have been altered and modernised and are not of special interest.
* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 21/05/2018