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Reading's Lego Building listed

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Hawkins\Brown will have to adjust its plans to revamp the 1970s ‘Lego Building’ at the University of Reading after it was granted a Grade II listing

The Twentieth Century Society made the application for statutory heritage protection after the university appointed Hawkins\Brown to the two-year refurbishment scheme and made a request for a certificate of immunity from listing.

The building was one of the last major university works by prolific post-war firm Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis and was completed in 1973.

The block is home to both the university’s School of the Built Environment and the School of Communication and Graphic Design and the University College of Estate Management.

Following the decision, a university spokesperson said: ‘We are looking carefully at the listing decision and will be making the required adjustments to our proposals, subject to final planning permission.

‘We have taken care in our development of the designs to this point to respect the existing building to the extent of consulting with the original architects. We are therefore very conscious of ensuring that we work with the original design.’

Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, welcomed the listing decision.

She said: ‘With its strong silhouette and distinctive form, this is an important building by one of the foremost British architectural practices of the post-war period.

‘We acknowledge that some modernisation needs to be made but we want to ensure that any alterations are conservation-led and in keeping with the integrity of the original design.’

Built as a major teaching block of four and five storeys, the building provides two lecture theatres, tutorial, studio and conference rooms, and a range of other teaching spaces and offices.

In its listing decision, Historic England said: ‘The building is rigorous and functional, without pretension or grand gesture, and the very low level of alteration is testament to its qualities. It stands comfortably alongside the best post-war university buildings.’

However, the heritage organisation declined to list some of the interiors, in particular the non-structural party walls between rooms, which it deemed not to be of special interest.

John Partridge, one of the co-founders of Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis, died last month, aged 91 (see AJ 02.08.16).

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