The students' union was the third building which the architect Sir Aston Webb designed for Imperial College. The college was founded in 1907 with the joining of the Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines, and City and Guilds College. By 1910 the college and its needs had grown considerably and a students union was officially established with the commissioning of Webb to design a union building.
The building formed part of what became known as Beit Quadrangle, named after Sir Alfred Beit (1853-1906), benefactor to the college. It was constructed north of the Prince Consort Road, with the Royal Albert Hall and the 1851 Exhibition Memorial rising in the background behind, as seen in Webb's perspective of 1909.
Addition of student accomodation
The union building today is not recognisable from this original Webb design. In the 1920s student accommodation was built in front of and around the union. The image on the right is Webb's hostel design of 1924. The student residences were built following Webb's plan, however they have been added to considerably, including an additional storey on top.