MALET STREET (East side)
Senate House and Institute of Education (University of London) and attached railings
Senate House and Institute of Education. 1932-1938. By Charles Holden, built with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. Brick load-bearing construction with Portland stone facing.
Symmetrical design, not completed, comprising central tower flanked by two courtyard ranges to either side. The southern, completed half, houses the ceremonial and administrative functions of the University of London. The northern half houses the Institute of Historical Research and School of Slavonic Studies in more functional surrounding: north-east wing not completed. The initial concept of a single, spinal building extending the length of Torrington Square was abandoned as building began, but survives in model form displayed on the first floor balcony of Senate House.
EXTERIOR: central, higher fourth floor is the University library, with above it offices and bookstack housed in the formal 18-storey tower built in recessed stages with broad central buttresses on the east and west sides. Six windows at first floor level. Four and five storey wings with ten-window forward return and 14 windows width each. Under enriched, flat canopies, two square-headed entrances each side of the central buttress, all with two-leaf glass doors with vertically patterned metal grills. Above the canopies small rectangular windows with patterned grills and keystones. Square-headed, recessed windows with metal frames, those at first floor level on the tower being elongated with enriched spandrel panels and flanked by medium sized windows at the angles, with balconies, culminating in lunettes at sixth floor level. From the second floor to the 18th, small vertically set windows, in groups of three until the penultimate stage when they are continuous. Flanking wings with metal balconies to windows at angles. Flat roofs with plain bands at parapet levels. East facade similar. Inner courtyards similarly treated, with hopper heads dated 1936.
INTERIOR: imposing Egyptianate entrance hall at base of tower with travertine floor and walls with broad fluted pilasters a semi-open space giving through access, with doors to south leading to Senate House and to north to Institute of Historical Research and School of Slavonic Studies.
Senate House. Principal spaces all with travertine cladding to walls and floors, ceilings of moulded plaster with flat panel patterns and embellishments based on a London plane tree motif. Staircases floored in travertine, with bronzed balustrades treated as stylised Ionic columns. Principal entrance hall on two levels with first floor balcony having elaborate bronzed balustrade: Holden's original model exhibited here.
On ground floor there is to east the MacMillan Hall, named after Lord MacMillan first Chairman of the University Court, with square panelled ceiling, travertine walls decorated as fluted pilasters at end and to sides set with acoustic panels to Holden's design and coloured glass, teak floor, and original light fittings. Memorials to HRH Queen Mother, Chancellor 1955-80, and to Princess Royal, Chancellor 1981- . William Beveridge Hall, named after the University's Vice Chancellor 1926-8, retains dado panelling set with brass filets in Greek key pattern under acoustic quilting, with semi-permanent seating and stage.
On first floor processional stair leads to Chancellor's Hall, with square panelled timber to window recesses, travertine cladding, and square panelled plaster ceilings. Inlay pattern floors, original doors and fittings. To east a suite of rooms set round courtyard includes Court Room and Senate Room. Senate Room and ante rooms fully panelled in English walnut, the former of double height with trabeated ceilings, original fixed seating in stepped rows arranged like a council chamber with dias. Bronze uplighters. Ante rooms with heraldic glass by E Bossanyi dated 1937. On north side committee room and processional suite of corridors with dado panelling and moulded cornices, original furnishings and fittings. On south side the Vice Chancellor's offices not inspected.
Second floor staff common rooms and third floor common rooms and refectories originally with painted mural ceilings. Those in refectory not seen under later acoustic tiles; war memorial tablet in corridor. Fourth floor libraries of double height. Two general reading rooms, the Middlesex Libraries, finished in oak with original bookshelves and fittings of English walnut. Goldsmith's Library to south with glazed bookcases, and ceiling of cypress wood and stained glass by E Bossanyi. Above these the bookstacks supported by steel frame on concrete raft. The offices retain original doors, lettering and fittings. The whole is a remarkably unaltered ensemble of 1930s design, with a high proportion of highly decorated ceremonial spaces over functional offices.
The Institute of Historical Research and School of Slavonic Studies with ground-floor entrance hall of single-storey height, travertine floors and finishings similar in style but simpler than those found in Senate House.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: attached cast-iron railings on stone sleeper wall and gates of radial pattern with central bosses containing coats of arms. Pillars with pilasters and geometric enrichment, those at the gates surmounted by rectangular down-lighter lamps with small defused panes and topped by stepped features.
HISTORICAL NOTE: built as a landmark, in 1937 this was the tallest building in London apart from St Paul's Cathedral.
Listing NGR: TQ2992381896