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Work begins on Holl’s long-awaited Maggie’s centre

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Work has finally started on Steven Holl’s controversial Maggie’s centre at St Bart’s in East London

A groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the official start of building work at the centre yesterday (10 June).

The three-storey centre, dubbed an ‘urban townhouse’, hit the headlines in 2013 when initial proposals were pulled from planning.

Subsequently approved designs also had to be amended after campaigners challenging the centre’s impact on the hospital’s grade I*-listed Great Hall launched a legal bid to overturn City of London’s decision to award the centre planning permission.

Maggie’s, Barts Health NHS Trust, and its opponents - the Friends of the Great Hall - went through a formal arbitration process to come to a compromise over the development, with the resulting alternative design now seeing shared facilities incorporated into the Maggie’s Centre to support the operation of the listed Great Hall.

Architect Steven Holl, said: ‘With the deep conviction and dedication of Laura Lee and her staff, Maggie’s Barts is finally breaking ground. After making my first sketches years ago, I am extremely grateful for this special day.’

Laura Lee, Maggie’s chief executive added: ‘I’m delighted that construction of a Maggie’s Centre at Barts has been able to start in earnest, bringing us one step closer to the centre opening its doors to bring this much needed support to people living and working in the City and East London.’

The team signed up to deliver Barts Maggie’s is the same as the team behind Holl’s Reid Building for Glasgow School of Art, namely JM Architects as executive architect and Sir Robert McAlpine as main contractor.

AJ editor Rory Olcayto, who attended the ceremony said: ‘This team obviously enjoyed working together in Glasgow. It shows the benefits that can come from truly collaborative design, something we highlighted last year when we awarded JM Architects the AJ100 building of the year prize, despite their billing as executive architects on Holl’s design.

‘It will be interesting to see how they manage these equally challenging project – albeit one in a very different environment.’

Holl’s partner Chris McVoy, who led the Glasgow project for the New York practice, added: ‘We’re delighted to working together again.’


Hopkins asked by the NHS Trust to look at heritage buildings at Barts identifying ‘essential improvements’ to the Great Hall, in James Gibbs’ 1738 North Wing, next to the 1960s finance block.

April 2010
Maggie’s invited by NHS Trust to create plans for a centre at Barts. Site confirmed, consultation begins. Steven Holl appointed.

February 2011
Trust Board approves Maggie’s Centre at Barts.

Mid 2012
Hopkins appointed by Friends of the Great Hall to draw up alternative plans to Holl’s proposals. Holl reveals first sketches.

February 2013
Holl submits plans for centre, which includes access from hall for toilets. Scheme recommended for approval. The Friends object.

June 2013
Holl’s Maggie centre rejected by planners. Maggie’s withdraw application.

July 2013
Donald Insall Associates appointed directly by NHS Trust to look at how Great Hall can be ‘self-sufficient’ and sit alongside Holl scheme.

February 2014
Trust Board reconfirm support for Maggie’s Centre. Hopkins submits rival plans on behalf of Friends for new cores on ends of North Wing.

March 2014
As landowners the Trust writes in objection to the Hopkins application.

April 2014
Holl submits revised plans. Trust board supports revised scheme. Hopkins wins planning for rival plans.

June 2014
Trust outlines vision for the future of the Great Hall.

July 2014
City of London set to hear Holl’s new plans.

July 2014
Holl wins planning for revised Maggie’s Centre scheme.

August 2014
Marcus Setchell, chairman of the Friends of the Great Hall, launches judicial review against the decision to award planning to Holl’s design.

December 2014
Campaigners drop their legal challenge after an arbitration process which sees the Maggie’s designed altered to support the operation of the listed Great Hall.

June 2015
Work starts on site.

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