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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lloyds London Building gets Grade I listed status.

This famous building at 1,  Lime Street, in the City of London, England is also known as Inside – Out Building.  It was designed by architect Richard Rogers and built between 1978 and 1986. Bovis was the management contractor for the scheme.  The building was innovative in having its services such as staircases, lifts, electrical power conduits and water pipes on the outside, leaving an uncluttered space inside. The twelve glass lifts were the first of their kind in the UK.  The building consists of three main towers and three service towers around a central, rectangular space. Its focal point is the large Underwriting Room on the ground floor, which houses the famous Lutine Bell.  The 11th floor was designed to be similar to its earlier appearance and reportedly was transferred piece-by-piece from the previous (1958) building across the road.

This is building is of great significance to us all by our profession for it houses - Lloyd's, also known as Lloyd's of London,  the  British insurance and reinsurance market.   Unlike most of its competitors in the insurance and reinsurance industry, it is not a company, it is a market,  a corporate body under the Lloyd's Act 1871 of the British Parliament.

Business is conducted face-to-face between brokers and underwriters in the Underwriting Room.  When we talk of Lloyd’s, we’re really referring to two distinct parts. The market, which is made up of many independent businesses, and the Corporation of Lloyd’s, which is there – broadly speaking – to oversee that market. These parts are distinct, but far from independent. Both work closely to maintain high standards of performance across the market.   The origin of this empire  lay in the more modest surroundings of a 17th century coffee house. Edward Lloyd's coffee house became recognised as the place for obtaining marine insurance and this is where the Lloyd’s that we know today began.

From those beginnings in a coffee house in 1688, Lloyd’s has been a pioneer in insurance and has grown over 300 years to become the world’s leading market for specialist insurance.

Apart from its Insurance (read Marine) significance, the hi tech building constructed by Richard Roger  with its pipes, lifts and toilets presented on the outside, has become one of only a few modern buildings to be given Grade I listed status.  The decision, by the heritage minister, John Penrose, puts the building in the top 2.5% of all listed buildings. It now has the sort of protection given to St Paul's Cathedral and Windsor Castle.  The listing was recommended by English Heritage. Its designation director, Roger Bowdler, said it was "fitting recognition of the sheer splendour of Richard Rogers's heroic design. Its dramatic scale and visual dazzle, housing a hyper-efficient commercial complex, is universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch."

Bowdler said its listing, which provides substantial protection but did not mean it is "pickled in aspic", had been enthusiastically supported. Penrose said the Lloyd's building "stands the test of time with its awe-inspiring futuristic design, which exemplifies the hi-tech style in Britain. It clearly merits the extra protection against unsuitable alteration or development that listing provides."

It is one of only a handful of postwar buildings and structures to be given Grade I listing.  Lloyd's chief executive, Richard Ward, is quoted as saying: "The building remains modern, innovative and unique – it has really stood the test of time just like the market that sits within it. This listing decision will protect the building against unsuitable alteration or development while retaining its flexibility to adapt within the market's needs."

The Rogers were quoted as saying that the listing was an honour: "It is important to conserve buildings of architectural and historical significance, and the work of English Heritage is central to that. It is also of vital importance for buildings to remain flexible spaces which meet the changing needs of those who live or work in them. English Heritage has recognised this, ensuring the spirit of the original design is retained while the building remains adaptable in the future."

Richard George Rogers, Baron Rogers of Riverside is a British architect noted for his modernist and functionalist designs. Rogers is perhaps best known for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Lloyd's building and Millennium Dome both in London, and the European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg. He is a winner of the RIBA Gold Medal, the Thomas Jefferson Medal, the RIBA Stirling Prize, the Minerva Medal and Pritzker Prize.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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