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Post-war classics get Tony Banks' approval


The Royal College of Physicians, Denys Lasdun's 1964 masterpiece, has been listed in Grade I.

Widely recognised as one of the finest examples of 1960s architecture, the building was awarded the Trustees Medal of the riba in 1992.

Listings minister and mayoral hopeful Tony Banks upgraded the recommendation of English Heritage of Grade II* due in part to the building's 'lavish', 'exceptional' interior. It joins a select band of Grade I buildings as one of the youngest buildings to achieve the highest protection - Foster's 1975 Willis Faber Building in Ipswich being the most recent.

'There has been a tendency to dismiss the public buildings of this period, particularly those built in the 1960s,' said Banks, 'as unattractive and poorly executed. However, the passage of time has enabled us to appreciate some of them with the wonderful benefit of hindsight.' Banks said that the 11 examples of post-war civic architecture he was listing demonstrated that the mid-twentieth century had produced buildings of true originality and merit.

Banks also listed, in Grade II*: Donald McMorran's 1964 Devon County Hall; Wood Street Police Station in the City of London by McMorran and Whitby; Powell and Moya's 1968 Christ Church Picture Gallery in Oxford and E Vincent Harris' 1960 Kensington Central Library, London. In the lower Grade II, Banks listed the 1960 Hampshire County Buildings in Winchester; Scunthorpe's 1962 Civic Centre, Truro's 1966 New County Hall, Westcliff Branch Library in Southend-on-Sea; the 1960 St Austell Library in Cornwall and Jesmond Branch Library in Newcastle upon Tyne. However, he chose not to list S A G Cook's 1960 Holborn Central Library in London, one of the first public libraries of the period to use a framed structure to ensure maximum flexibility of planning and a completely glazed facade.

In terms of higher education buildings, Banks evaluated H S Goodhart- Rendel's Westminster College, Vincent Square, London as worthy of Grade II*, as was the 1958 Newton Building in Nottingham Trent University, by T Cecil Howitt & Partners. A Grade II listing was conferred upon Leonard C Howitt's Hollings Building, Manchester Metropolitan University - the quirky 1960 building nicknamed the 'toast-rack'. eh said its parabolic shape was a response to the need for teaching spaces of different sizes.

eh has rescued Grade I-listed Hill Hall in Essex, a former women's open prison, with a £2 million repair programme completed this week. It is now looking for a new owner and new use while retaining some public access. The building opens to the public on 3 June.

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