The site now occupied by the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre was previously occupied by several buildings. At the northern end of the site were the headquarters of the Stationery Office which had originally been the "Parliamentary Mews" built in 1825 by Decimus Burton and converted in 1853-5. The southern side was occupied by the Westminster Hospital built by W & H W Inwood in 1831-4 and expanded later that century and in 1924. The previous buildings became surplus to requirements in 1950 and were demolished; designs were drawn up by Thomas Tait for building a new Colonial Office on the site; however only the foundations had been built by the time progress was halted in 1952.
The front entrance to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre from the Sanctuary outside Westminster Abbey.
In 1958 it was decided that there would be an open space on the southern edge of the site by Broad Sanctuary, and an architectural competition for a conference hall and government offices was held in 1961. The competition was won by William Whitfield but the scheme was not progressed due to the plans for redeveloping Whitehall drawn up by Leslie Martin in 1965. The site remained in limbo until a feasibility study for the conference centre was drawn up in 1975. The centre as eventually built was designed by PowellMoya & Partners and constructed by Bovis Construction with work starting in 1981; it was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1986.
The front facade of Westminster School viewed from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in August 2012.
The centre is owned by HM Government and its operation is conducted by an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government. It has four main auditoria, seven conference rooms and many smaller rooms. It specialises in events for between 40 and 1,300 delegates. It also has 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. The centre is a very successful venue hosting over 400 meetings each year and returning an annual dividend to the Exchequer, thus not reliant on the taxpayer for financial support.