The Twentieth Century Society (C20 Society) has fired the first major broadside in the second battle to list parts of London’s 1980s Broadgate office campus
More from: Battle of Broadgate set to re-ignite
In 2011 culture minister Jeremy Hunt controversially turned down English Heritage’s bid to list the entire estate at grade II*, granting the Arup Associates-designed buildings Three, Four and Six immunity from statutory protection and paving the way for Make’s nearly complete £460 million Five Broadgate project.
Now EH is looking again at Number One (1982-84) and Catherine Croft of the C20 Society and has made an early plea to the minister not to be swayed by commercial arguments when judging the merits of whether to list the ‘elegantly proportioned and sleekly clad building in Finsbury Avenue’.
She said: ‘We are assuming that EH will strongly recommend listing of 1 Finsbury Avenue – as they did the first phases of the widely acclaimed Broadgate, also designed by Peter Foggo of Arup Associates.
‘However, as we know from the [earlier] Broadgate case, owners of commercial buildings are often strongly opposed to listing because they want to be able to demolish and replace them with something larger and more profitable. Although ministerial decisions on listing should be based purely on an assessment of architectural and historic interest, we suspect that this lobbying can be more influential than it should be.’
She added: ‘We hope Number One Finsbury Avenue will not share the same fate as its distinguished neighbours - now demolished - and hope that this pioneering office building can be given the protection it deserves, and appreciated by future generations.’
Developer British Land, the owner of the Finsbury Avenue office block has sent its own report to EH, which is currently carrying out its consultation on the building’s merits, setting out why it should not be listed.
The AJ understands that, while British Land does not intend to flatten 1 Finsbury Avenue, the listing could impact on the extent of any alterations to the building.
The report for British Land has been penned by critic and author Ken Powell. The developer has commissioned Arup Associates to look at reworking the block.
British Land refused to comment.
A spokesperson from English Heritage
‘We have encountered nothing but openness in our dealings with the owners. Listing concerns itself solely with architectural and historic special interest and all parties are fully aware of this.’
Rab Bennetts of Bennetts Associates
‘Whereas Broadgate (1984-88) is memorable for its public realm, 1 Finsbury Avenue (1982-84) kick-started a revolution in the design and construction of offices in general. Although Peter Foggo [at Arup Associates] was initially uncomfortable with steel-frame construction on the American model, he demonstrated real finesse in the execution of the building and it became the template and benchmark for a generation of City buildings.’