55 Broadway is a listed building overlooking St. James's Park in London. It was designed by Charles Holden and built between 1927 and 1929; in 1931 the building earned him the RIBA London Architecture Medal.
It was constructed as a new headquarters for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL), the main forerunner of London Underground. Upon completion, it was the tallest office block in the city.
London Underground is due to vacate the building in 2015 for new headquarters, and 55 Broadway will be converted for residential use.
Faced with Portland stone and covering a site with an irregular footprint, the upper office floors of the building are on a cruciform plan, stepping back towards the central clock tower at the top. The cruciform design afforded the optimum level of natural light to the offices. The ground floor now contains a shopping arcade and many art deco details. Previously the ground floor was also given over to London Transport offices, including a travel information centre, cash office and a library. The whole building straddles St. James's Park tube station, the east and west wings being immediately above the railway tunnel. When finished it was the tallest steel-framed office building in London, until another Holden building, the University of London's Senate House, (based on similar designs and materials) took the accolade.
On each elevation, the pediment above the sixth floor is decorated with a relief, collectively known as 'the four winds', although the four points of the compass are repeated twice for a total of eight reliefs. Each relief was carved by an avant-garde sculptor of the day.
Halfway along the north and east facades are a matched pair of sculptures, Day and Night by Jacob Epstein. The modernism and graphic nakedness of these sculptures created public outrage on their unveiling. Newspapers started a campaign to have the statues removed and one company director, Lord Colwyn even offered to pay the cost. Frank Pick, the managing director of the UERL at the time, took overall responsibility and offered his resignation over the scandal. In the end, Epstein agreed to remove 1.5 inches from the penis of the smaller figure on Day and ultimately the furore died down.
The function suite on the 10th floor of the building was formerly set up as a dining room for the chairman and senior executives. At this level there are also two roof gardens, one of which was dedicated to the wife of a former managing director in recognition of her enthusiasm to encourage this early form of environmental work.
The building, first listed as Grade II in 1970, was re-graded to Grade I in 2011.
In 2013, it was announced that 55 Broadway will be converted into luxury apartments once London Underground move operations from the building in 2015.
Commissioned art work
- Day and Night, Jacob Epstein
- North Wind, Alfred Gerrard
- North Wind, Eric Gill
- East Wind, Eric Gill
- East Wind, Allan G. Wyon
- South Wind, Eric Gill
- South Wind, Eric Aumonier
- West Wind, Samuel Rabinovitch
- West Wind, Henry Moore
- "Underground Journeys: Holdenesque". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "Underground Journeys: The Heart of London". Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- Karol 2007, p. 319.
- "55 Broadway". Exploring 20th Century London. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "St James's Park station gets Grade I listing". Department of Culture, Media and Sport. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "Tube's historic HQ to be turned into high-price flats". Evening Standard. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Modern Architectural Sculpture, Ed. William Aumonier, The Architectural Press, London 1930
- Karol, Eitan (2007). Charles Holden: Architect. Shaun Tyas. ISBN 978-1-900289-81-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 55 Broadway, London.|
- London Transport Museum Photographic Archive
- Underground Journeys: The Heart of London Illustrated history of 55 Broadway, from the Royal Institute of British Architects