A late C20 High Tech office building and insurance market for the major insurance firm, Lloyd’s. Designed from 1978, begun in 1981 and opened in 1986, to the designs of Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP). Engineers, Ove Arup & Partners (team leader Peter Rice). Lighting scheme by Imagination, 1988.
Reasons for Designation
The Lloyd's building has outstanding special interest and is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural innovation: a seminal late-C20 building by one of Britain's most significant modern architects. It exemplifies the High Tech style in Britain, with its boldly expressed services and flexibility of plan throughout the impressive exterior and interior.
* Historic interest: a purpose-built headquarters for an internationally important organisation that successfully integrates the traditions and fabric of earlier Lloyd’s buildings (including the Adam Room moved originally from Bowood House, the 1925 Cooper façade and fixtures such as the Lutine Bell).
* Flexibility of design: Lloyd’s was innovative for the in-built flexibility of its design that would respond to changing needs in the market. The robustness of the overall design has allowed regular changes to work satisfactorily, and the essential elements of the building survive remarkably well. New additions, while too new to be of special interest, have been thoughtfully incorporated.
* Timelessness: the building, which looked to Victorian as well as mid C20 buildings for inspiration, firmly retains the splendour of its awe-inspiring futuristic design, 25 years (at the time of listing in 2011) after it opened.
* Group value: Lloyd’s, in the heart of the City of London, has many listed neighbours and it forms a wonderfully incongruous backdrop to many of these in captured vistas throughout the City. It has particular group value with the adjacent Grade II* Leadenhall Market, a significant Victorian commercial building to which Lloyd’s itself nods with its glazed atrium.
* Celebrated design: one of the best known and admired modern commercial buildings in the country, with international renown that cast the image of the City of London in a new light.
Lloyd’s takes its name from Edward Lloyd, a Welshman who opened a coffee house in Tower Street in 1688. It became a meeting place for seafarers, ship-owners, merchants, and for the first underwriters who insured the ships and their cargoes. By the 1770s this group had found accommodation in the Royal Exchange and, trading as Lloyd’s, it stayed there until the 1920s, when the scale of its members’ operations made a move inevitable. A site was acquired in Leadenhall Street and Sir Edwin Cooper was commissioned to design a prestigious headquarters. The site was awkward, since there was only a small frontage to Leadenhall Street, where Cooper had already designed another building, Royal Mail House. He made the most of the site by setting the building, completed in 1928, behind an imposing triumphal arch and corridor, which led to the ‘Room’, a grandiose 16,000 square foot space where the underwriting business was conducted, laid out on the principle that everyone should be able to see each other. But even so large a space rapidly proved inadequate and in 1936 Lloyd’s acquired Royal Mail House as additional accommodation.
Cooper’s buildings survived the war unscathed, but the underwriters acquired bomb-damaged property across Lime Street, where in 1952 they began a second building, with a new ‘Room’, Chairman’s suite and members’ restaurant, traditionally called the ‘Captain’s Room’. Completed in 1957, it was designed by Terence Heysham, successor to Cooper’s practice, in a traditional style embraced by the City. Known as the Heysham Building, it was extensively remodelled by DEGW in 1990-1 and demolished and replaced in 2006-7 by No.51 Lime Street, designed by Foster and Partners. By the late 1970s the Heysham Building had already become too small and a third building was needed, and having outgrown two permanent buildings so quickly made Lloyd’s very concerned to rebuild the Cooper buildings with greater adaptability in mind. It had recently opened an administrative building in Chatham, designed by Arup Associates, but despite the success of this scheme, it eventually resolved to hold an invited competition for such a prestigious and yet sensitive brief. Cooper’s original Lloyd’s building was listed in 1977, which added a further consideration to the design of the new building.
The choice of a competition was encouraged by Gordon Graham, then President of the RIBA, who advised that Lloyd’s needed a building strategy rather than simply a design. Twelve firms were initially invited to produce ideas, from which six were shortlisted: Piano and Rogers, Foster Associates, Arup Associates, the American I. M. Pei, Webb Zarafa Menkes Housden from Canada and the French Serete practice. Rogers, his partnership with Renzo Piano by now only a nominal one, assembled the English components of the team that had won the competition for Paris’s Pompidou (Beaubourg) Centre in 1971, including architects John Young and Marco Goldschmied and the engineers Peter Rice and Jack Zunz from Ove Arup and Partners. They secured the commission, in April 1978, because they were able to develop a strategy for Lloyd’s to continue to trade through building operations that were already appreciated as likely to be complex and protracted. The complex brief required two main features in addition to continuity of trading: the creation of a single trading space, or Room, and the potential for expansion and contraction. Lloyd’s members overwhelmingly approved Rogers’s designs in November 1978.
When design work began, personal computer technology was only just emerging and the design had to be altered following the realisation that desktop terminals would become a major part of working life. This led to heavier and more dominant service towers, to serve this new technology: power and cabling provision had to be doubled, and cooling capacity dramatically increased. Television screens and computer monitors had to be clearly readable without reflections from the glazing, which is mostly translucent. The six service towers were enlarged, losing their earlier slim and expressive qualities to become the dominant features of the design. Microchips were used in the building to monitor lifts, security and other services: an early example of this technology.
On 20th September 1979, the City’s Court of Common Council accepted the recommendation of its planning committee and granted consent for the Cooper building to be demolished and outline permission for the new building on the site. The interior was stripped and the arched portal to Leadenhall Street was retained as one entrance to the new Richard Rogers Partnership building. Demolition of Cooper’s building began in October 1979, and was only completed in February 1981, the underwriters and office staff having been moved piecemeal into temporary accommodation in the Heysham Building. Work on the new building began in June 1981. The Queen Mother poured concrete for one of the main columns in a ceremony in November, and returned in May 1984 for the topping-out. The building was finally occupied in May 1986.
Richard Rogers, now Lord Rogers of Riverside, was born in 1933 in Florence. He trained at the Architectural Association and Yale University before setting up the Team 4 practice with Norman Foster and others in 1962. Their house for his in-laws, Creekvean in Feock, Cornwall (1964-7) was listed Grade II in 1998 and upgraded to Grade II* in 2002. Rogers subsequently formed an architectural practice with his then wife, Su Rogers, and from 1970-77, worked with the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Their Pompidou Centre building in Paris, which opened in 1977, is a major landmark of the High Tech style (although with a completely steel frame that was not allowed in the City). Other major works by Rogers include: the Channel 4 Building in Westminster, the law courts in Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Antwerp, the National Assembly of Wales in Cardiff, the Barajas Airport in Madrid and Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.
In-situ concrete frame (a result of the City of London's fire regulations which would have required expensive fire protection to a steel frame) of very high quality concrete to combine strength with slimness. Six perimeter towers with stainless steel services (toilet pods, staircases, external lifts, pipes and ducts) dramatically expressed externally. The concrete frame is visible and embraced as part of the aesthetic internally. The weight of the floor grid is transferred via U-beams to the 28 columns by means of distinctive and expressed pre-cast brackets. Members of Rogers’s team studied the latest American concrete techniques in the office of I. M. Pei, and the frame was carefully articulated to avoid staining. John Young, the partner in charge, said that their aim was to create ‘the best concrete building in Britain’. The design appears to be paying homage to American architect Louis Kahn in the slickly finished columns, the strong grid and the coffered ceilings, as honed by Kahn in his Yale Art Gallery extension (1951-3), introduced to Rogers when studying at Yale University in the early 1960s. Stainless steel was preferred to aluminium for the external cladding, again at the behest of the fire authority, with a fine textured finish to give a bright sheen. Steel cranes, painted blue, are permanently sited on upper levels for cleaning and maintenance. The building is set on piled foundations, with propping and underpinning of adjoining buildings because of their considerable depth. The basement acts as a ‘drained box’ with a water-permeable layer beneath the floor slab and a drained cavity between the internal and external skins.
The central atrium is defined by a painted latticed steel and glass barrel-vaulted roof and tall window, similarly detailed, facing Leadenhall Place. The building is more highly glazed than is immediately apparent, and was designed to withstand solar gain. A clever solution using triple glazing facilitates an air conditioning system in which cool air is introduced into the building at floor level and stale air is extracted at high level via the light fittings and down a cavity in the triple glazing. Much of the glass is translucent, or ‘sparkle’, glass so the public cannot see into the trading floor, which is a strictly private operation. There are shallow ‘vision strips’ of clear glass placed at sitting or standing level depending on the floor; this was being re-ordered to allow for a greater proportion of clear glass at the time of listing (2011) in a sympathetic manner by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The window bays are divided by projecting perforated aluminium mullions, and there are 'fish tail' profile ducts connected to the top of each window, which bring the air from the ceiling to the cavity glass of the wall.
The design ethos of the Lloyd’s building, which exemplifies the High Tech style in Britain, is centred around its inherent flexibility and dynamism. The aesthetic is boldly futuristic, even thirty years after design began, yet while resoundingly modern, Lloyd's was inspired and informed by the great traditions of C19 British engineering, perhaps best seen in the atrium (which responds to the adjacent Leadenhall Market). The asymmetric and soaring expressed towers have also led to the building being described as 'Gothic'. At its heart is the concept of ‘served’ and ‘servant’ space introduced by Louis Kahn, with its clear architectural expression of different functional spaces throughout the building. It is sometimes referred to as ‘the inside out’ building because of the strongly expressed services that define the exterior massing and style. Lloyd’s combines elements of the statuesque and permanent within a dress of the lightweight and disposable. Each elevation is different and part of the architectural excitement is glimpsing different elevations and rooflines from different parts of the City.
The building comprises a rectangular block of offices, 67m x 45.5m, set back within a cobbled well with walkways linking the building to the pavement. The rectangular concrete structure at the core of the building is defined by 28 cylindrical piers on a 10.8m x 18m grid forming a rectangular courtyard with a central atrium, while the 'satellite' stair and service towers project in a pinwheel fashion around the perimeter.
Up to 16 storeys of offices, or galleries in Lloyd’s parlance (the stepped profile of the building means that not all the building is the same height) with a further two floors below ground. Main reception is currently (2011) on the Lime Street side into the lower ground floor (through replaced revolving doors). There are three other entrances: the original main entrance, with canopy, in the base of Tower 1, through the Cooper building on Leadenhall Street into the base of Tower 5 and in the base of Tower 3 on corner of Lime Street and Leadenhall Place. There is a ramp over the well from Leadenhall Street into the entrance of Tower 1. The ground and first floor is dominated by the most significant of the working spaces: double-height with a largely uninterrupted interior, where up to 6,000 underwriters and brokers can make deals and communicate face-to-face. The offices above are organised around the central, galleried atrium that extends the height of the building and culminates in the steel and glass barrel-vaulted roof. The lower seven storeys (lower ground, ground and levels 1-4) are served by a ladder of escalators within the central space; integral fixings at higher levels allow for future expansion of the escalators to upper floors. The design incorporates Robert Adam’s ‘Great Room’ of c.1763 from Bowood House, Wiltshire in gallery 11.
The special Lloyd’s term of ‘the Room’ is a semi-abstract concept that refers to all the levels of the building that are occupied by the market at that time. The original design always intended this to be flexible, allowing floor area to be expanded or contracted as the market demanded, and it is considered a fundamental component of its success as a working market building. At the time of listing (2011), the market operates at ground level, and levels 1-3 (levels 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and part of 3 are let to tenants, although this is subject to change); the Corporation of Lloyd’s occupies levels 5, 6, 12 and part of level 4, while Level 11 contains the Committee suite.
The Lloyd’s Building is identified by the six different towers that engulf the rectangular core: three for escape stairs and fire-related services, the others for the external glazed lifts (in natural colours, rather than bright primary colours as at other RRP projects), the pre-fabricated lavatories (for ease of assembly and maintenance) and ducts. The highest towers are to Leadenhall Street (Towers 1, 5 and 6) and are graduated back to where the street grain is lower (next to Leadenhall Market) at Towers 3 and 4. The elevations inbetween are marked by expressed concrete columns which clasp the glazed offices (each storey is 4 horizontal panes of glazing high) with the distinctive brackets, overlapped by horizontal ductwork. The prefabricated toilet cabins are shiny steel boxes with porthole lights, slotted in to their own concrete structure with more slender corner columns and bands between each storey. To Leadenhall Place are a series of stacked meeting room pods, which start at gallery 1 above the vehicle lifts and rise through gallery 6; these steel pods externally appear quite similar to the toilet pods. The stairwells, with their curved apsidal ends are equally shiny, and the slope of the steps is expressed with a deep gap between each floor. The lifts are particularly light with entirely glazed corners and mounted steel fixings supporting the glass instead of being held in a frame. Four of the towers are topped by major three-tiered plant rooms (these are much larger than were originally planned to cope with increased air-conditioning needs and to ease access for maintenance staff). Boldly expressed and chunky cylindrical ventilation ducts (for return air and supply air) in stainless steel have a strongly vertical quality to the top where the re-circulating duct angles into the air handling plant of the towers. The original main entrance, at the base of Tower 1, is identified by a grand cantilevered canopy with a barrel-vaulted glazed profile, which echoes the atrium roof. A small, fully-glazed cabin was added later to the entrance at Tower 1 to accommodate the ‘waiters’ (Lloyd’s special name for its traditional red-coated staff) is too recent to be of special interest. Revolving doors have also been added to this entrance and are not of special interest. A rectangular, dark blue glazed ceramic City of London plaque, commemorating the foundation of the London Penny Post in 1680, is fixed to the wall near the main entrance.
To Leadenhall Street, the façade of the Lloyd’s premises designed by Sir Edwin Cooper of 1925-28 (known as the Cooper building) is now treated as a stone screen and the entrance to Tower 5. This was listed at Grade II in 1977, and has now been consolidated within this listing. The Portland stone classical façade is all that survives. This is dominated by a doorway ornamented with swags and a balustrade, set within a colossal niche with coffered semi-dome. Single windows to 2 storeys at either side, those to ground floor at left and right now carry WWI and WWII war memorials respectively. Five square windows to the enriched upper storey and a full-width pediment with figure sculpture by C.L.J. Doman. There is a plaque to the right announcing: LLOYD’S 1925 with the names of the Chairman and Committee, and identifying Sir Edwin Cooper as the architect.
The building is tightly fitted into its site and is partly enclosed from the pavement by railings with slender steel uprights and horizontal thin circular steel sections. The railings are generally set on smooth granite copings or a shallow plinth which also form the edge of the wells below the building. The external perimeter ground surface at street level, and down into the well (including the vertical retaining walls of the well) is largely finished with square rough granite setts, of some interest for the way their placement defines the edge of the building and differentiates Lloyd’s access from the public road, but repaired and replaced in a number of areas. The granite steps that lead down to the well beneath the building and up to the various entrances are included in the listing. The modest steel cylindrical bollards are of some interest, but are likely to have been moved or replaced. The two steel flagpoles, presumed to have been added soon after opening, are sited in line with the entrance canopy at Tower 1. An access ramp spans the wells to Leadenhall Street under Tower 1 and beneath Tower 4, and there are various external stairs up to entrances or down to the well and the main entrance. These have a similar railing detail, but with smaller steel section horizontals and perforated uprights. There is one public bar (called 'One Under Lime' in 2011) on the lower concourse on the southwest corner, also near Tower 4. To the south west corner (in what is known as Green Yard) are seven free-standing steel air intake vents, arranged in line, cylindrical on plan and with chamfered tops; these original features contribute to the special interest. The free-standing glass and metal bike shed, set on cobbles to the south of the building, was designed by SPPARC Architects and added in 2007, is too recent to be of special interest.
The main interior space is organised around the central, soaring atrium with its dominant concrete columnar structure, the dynamic escalators at the base and the vast swathes of glass and steel in the barrel-vaulted roof and end wall. Externally expressed ductwork supplies fresh air and extracts stale air through the build-up of the concrete floor structure. Above the floor slab is a 300mm raised floor zone through which supply air is introduced into the building. Between the floor slab and the structural grid of the coffered ceiling runs a deep services void and in each coffer is a large circular light fitting of spun aluminium through which return air is extracted. Other services are set around the light fittings. The escalators, which connect the lower floors largely given over to underwriting, are fit into one square grid of the structural frame, within the atrium. They have exposed yellow mechanisms behind clear glass panels, which contribute not only to the ethos of exposed services, but to the feeling of dynamism in this busy working space. The escalators connecting the ground floor and level 1 have curved half-landings with curved glass balustrades providing a view into the main trading floor below.
The lower and upper basements are largely given over to staff areas, plant rooms, lavatories (fitted out like those in the towers) and kitchens. The lower ground floor houses the main entrance with controlled access to the building, the restaurant and the old library reconstructed from the Cooper building. The old library is a high space with a balcony round it, entirely lined in timber with Ionic pilasters and a narrow apse that combines classical detailing with a sunrise motif that is almost art deco in inspiration. In a corridor outside the library is a re-sited (and lit from behind) war memorial dating from 1958 and representing, in brightly coloured stained glass by Hugh Easton, a valiant St. George with sword against a sunburst with abstract dragon-like frame. The restaurant, formerly known as the Captain’s Room, was designed by Eva Jiricna (who worked for Richard Rogers Partnership before launching her own practice) and had windows and screens like the sails of a ship; these fittings were removed c.2000 and the restaurant and reception were refurbished c.2007. Escalators travel from the lower ground floor to the double-height main trading floor. The main trading floor, which is sometimes likened to a cathedral nave for the great glazed end of the atrium that soars above it, is of predominantly open plan in which the underwriters have their trading ‘boxes’. The wooden boxes, or underwriters’ desks were designed as a ‘kit of parts’ by RRP in 1982 and echoed the traditional arrangement that had carried through from institution’s coffee house days; most of these boxes survive but in almost all cases the original bench seating has been removed. These features are of interest but they are moveable furniture, rather than fittings, so they are not included in the listing. The pictures, carpet, lights and equipment in this room are not fixtures or utilitarian in nature and would be excluded or noted as not having special interest. Also in the main trading floor, prominently sited under the arcade roof, is the Lutine Bell, within a rostrum that takes the form of a grand wooden tempietto, or miniature colonnaded temple of circular plan, culminating in a clock, all designed by Edwin Cooper. This distinctive piece of furniture (the bell has traditionally been rung to indicate good or bad insurance-related news) holds a prominent place at the base of the atrium and is a fixture by virtue of its weight (it is owned by Lloyd’s). The floor of the atrium is white marble.
The tenants’ floors were designed for continuous adaptation: originally screened by timber partitions now replaced by translucent glazed partitions that are considered less oppressive and in keeping with the building’s overall lightness. The galleries were designed to either have a perimeter corridor around the atrium, or be completely open plan behind a glazed screen. Galleries 1, 2 and 3 are open to the atrium by a transparent glass balustrade and the galleries above have a full height screen in this position with perforated ribs dividing each bay as in to the outside windows. Gallery 8 and part of gallery 7 retain moveable timber partitions which are of interest, but their moveable nature suggests that their interest is not uniquely tied to their current location in the building.
A few of the individual office interiors were designed by Eva Jiricna, working for RRP before she formed her own practice in 1985, but these have since been removed (those on the lower ground floor were removed in 2007), save the panelling on gallery 8. Jiricna also designed some of the furniture, some of which remains, but which is not a fixture. Jiricna was originally also to have designed the interiors of the executive floors, including the offices of the Chairman and other senior officials at Lloyd’s. However, in 1983 Sir Peter Green was succeeded as Chairman by Peter Miller, who commissioned the Paris decorator Jacques Grange to fit out the executive floors in a traditional manner with marble and reproduction furniture. The result was incongruous in its setting and reduced the impact of the Bowood Room at its heart, which Rogers had intended as a ‘jewel box’ of great richness in an otherwise starkly modern interior. The stacked offices to Leadenhall Places (galleries 1-6 inclusive) are wood panelled and originally comprised 1 single room that could be subdivided into 4 rooms with moveable partitions; all have been modified to some degree.
Galleries 5 and 6 and part of 4 house the Corporation, or management staff, of Lloyd’s. Gallery 11 contains the Committee suite and Robert Adam’s ‘Great Room’ from Bowood House, designed in 1763 as the drawing room but used from the late 1770s as Bowood’s principal dining room. The room was acquired at auction to become the committee room of the new Heysham Building, and installed in 1957 to altered proportions. RRP made space in their building for the Bowood Room to be reconstructed to its original height and width (having been reduced in size for its tenure in the Heysham Building) with some replicated elements to make up the difference. Ian Bristow was appointed consultant for the removal in January 1983, and a methodical reconstruction was made based on the surviving fragments, the drawings in the Soane Museum and photographs of the room in its original location. The original windows, shutters and architraves had been destroyed in 1956, and had to be remade, along with the chair rail and skirtings. The additional length of ceiling and wider spacings between the plaster dishes were retained, while additional arabesque panels were made between the doors to take up the additional length in the walls. The floorboards are the originals from Bowood, with some additional pieces added in 1956. The old work was supported on a steel framework to which timber grounds were fixed. The whole entity is encased in a double-height solid room in a post-modern style with a deeply rusticated plinth and simple recessed arched niches with flat architraves to each deeply-revealed opening. The original colour scheme for the room was only partially recovered, but these bright colours were deemed inappropriate for the Lloyd’s building, and the paler hues of straw colour and green were adopted as a compromise. New pier glasses were specially made according to Adam’s designs, and tables made based on his drawings for Syon House. The carpet, freestanding furniture, chandeliers and pictures in this room would be excluded form the listing as non-fixtures. There is also a special dining room on gallery 11 (refurbished in 2007) and a wide travertine staircase (designed by Jacques Grange) leading to gallery 12 with a small grid balustrade.
Towers 1, 3 and 5 contain a bridge to a lobby, off which there are 4 lifts to one side and lavatory and staircase pods to the other side. The staircases have double-apsidal ends, wrapped around two columns in line. They are lined with stainless steel and feature a cantilevered extruded aluminium tread. The lavatory pods are lined with stainless steel and have ceramic tile and mirrors on the wall and floor services, and solid white Carrara marble sink counters.
The following features would be considered to lack special interest in any future designation documentation: internal partitions and their doors (except for the timber partitions on gallery 8), carpets, free-standing furniture, raised floor pans and their pedestals, data cabling, mechanical systems, duct work, hidden plant, fire safety systems, internal block walls in the upper and lower basement areas, window blinds, external lighting scheme, hidden external satellite dishes and aerials on the roof and lift controls.
At the time of listing (2011), twenty-five years after its opening, the building survives remarkably well, owing to the inherent flexibility built into its original design and the careful management thus far. Changes include the unfortunate removal of the restaurant interior and meeting rooms designed by Eva Jiricna. There are also thoughtfully-designed but neutral additions such as the waiters’ cabin and bike shed, which are too modern to be included in the listing. The other insertions and removals of partitions were always expected to accommodate different tenants and have been a fact of the management of Lloyd’s since it opened; it is likely that furniture and partitions will continue to be moved as the building remains in active use. Other changes are minor and superficial, and were always intended as part of the flexible design ethos of this dynamic, working building.
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 30 October 2017.