Onwards and upwards

Exterior of Lloyds of London

Lloyds Building exterior_530x669

Exterior of Lloyds of London
Architect: Richard Rogers Partnership (1978-1986)
Photograph: A. Hunter (1986)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection

Lloyd’s of London is a contemporary cathedral of capitalism. Like its Medieval predecessors, the building’s guts are proudly displayed on the exterior. Steel struts strike out, akin to flying buttresses. Service pipes climb up and around the building, their clustered shafts like pillars. Towers make up its varied profile, here housing escalators, cranes and flues rather than bells. And great effect is gained by the dramatic projections casting deep shadows. This building is Gothic in spirit.

Designed by the Richard Rogers Partnership, and built 1978-86, the building remains as fresh today as when first completed. In 1986, The Buildings of England described Lloyd’s as ‘the most consistently innovative building the City has seen since Soane’s Bank of England’ (1788-1827), high praise indeed, and this photograph, by A Hunter, goes some way to demonstrating its radical nature.

The adjacent Victorian and Edwardian office blocks are dwarfed, their varied stone fronts, heavy with rustication and sculpture, suddenly dulled in comparison. But, typical of the City, construction hoardings demonstrate the constant flux of the Square Mile. The Lloyd’s building will soon be met by rival towers.


About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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