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1 Finsbury Avenue, City and County of the City of London

Description: 1 Finsbury Avenue

Grade: II
Date Listed: 26 January 2015
Building ID: 1422594

OS Grid Reference: TQ3295081792
OS Grid Coordinates: 532949, 181792
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5194, -0.0852

Locality: City and County of the City of London
County: Greater London Authority
Postcode: EC2M 2PB

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Listing Text


Speculative offices, 1982-4 by Arup Associates, Group 2 (Peter Foggo) for Rosehaugh Greycoat Estates Ltd.

Reason for Listing

1 Finsbury Avenue, speculative offices, 1982-4 by Arup Associates, Group 2 (Peter Foggo) for Rosehaugh Greycoat Estates Ltd, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Planning interest: it was the first phase of Finsbury Avenue Square and the precursor to Broadgate, marking the rapid growth of speculative office development in the City in the 1980s; * Architect: highly regarded, Arup Associates set new standards for progressive office buildings in their meticulous planning and attention to detail, as epitomised by this building; * Plan and form: an external stepped profile with landscaped terraces and a bronze coloured envelope behind brises soleil, tempering the impact of a large building; * Structural interest: a steel frame clad in bronze anodised curtain walling, the cladding designed by specialists Josef Gartner, all enabling its rapid construction; * Adaptability: rigorously designed 'shell and core' building, proven to be fully flexible internally; * Efficiency: an energy-efficient integrated heating system within the cladding; the atrium plan provided environmentally efficient, naturally-lit office space; * Extent of special interest: resides particularly in the external envelope, where the form, structure and aesthetic are unaltered.


1 Finsbury Avenue was designed and built as the first phase of the Finsbury Avenue development of speculative offices, by Rosehaugh Greycoat Estates Ltd for (Sir) Stuart Lipton. The masterplan envisaged three large office blocks forming the adjacent sides of a new square - Finsbury Avenue Square - built on land adjacent to Broad Street Station that had become available for development. Arup Associates (Group 2, team leader Peter Foggo) were appointed in late 1981. The design for 1 Finsbury Avenue was approved in March 1982; construction started at the end of 1982 and was completed in September 1984. At the same time, Group 2 refined the masterplan for the larger site, which provisionally included later phases of offices, developed as 3 and 2 Finsbury Avenue, and designed and constructed in 1986-7 and 1987-8, as land was acquired. The other sides of the square were soon enclosed by the first phases of the Broadgate development, developed by Lipton and the financier Godfrey Bradman, with Foggo’s team responsible for phases 1-4 (1985-7). Designed as London geared itself for the deregulation of the financial markets (sometimes referred to as the 'Big Bang') in 1986, 1 Finsbury Avenue was at the forefront of speculative urban commercial architecture in the economic boom of the mid- and late 1980s. Whereas near contemporary offices such as Richard Rogers’ Lloyds building were demonstrably ‘one-off’ commissions, in design terms 1 Finsbury Avenue drew on Arup Associates’ earlier experience, such as speculative City offices at Bush Lane House (1977) and Foggo’s near-contemporary Gateway 2, Basingstoke (1981-2), while it would inform subsequent City development, notably Broadgate. The client's brief for 1 Finsbury Avenue demanded a building which was efficiently planned, functional, cost-effective and of a high quality, to attract potential tenants to a ‘fringe’ site in what was in the early 1980s an uncertain letting market. At the time it was in the Borough of Hackney, only in 1994 being incorporated into the City by which time its commercial success was vindicated. There were in addition a pub, restaurant and a sports club, all entered from the surrounding streets. As a speculative office development, Arup Associates were commissioned to design the 'shell and core' of the building. Foggo, citing the architect Frank Duffy's concept of 'shell, services, scenery and sets', noted that ‘the design must recognise the difference between those parts of the building with a long stable life span and those where constant change, wide variation in aesthetic character and short life are principal characteristics’ (Designers’ Journal, 1985, 29). Built during a period that saw the globalisation of many aspects of the City, from imported servicing units to office culture, Duffy described 1 Finsbury Avenue as a marriage of American ideas on office planning and construction with British design skill. Drawing on these assimilated ideas, that Lipton had observed at first hand in North America to work particularly well in an economic downturn, and on best practice that Arup Associates had established on previous projects, ensured the building's rapid construction. The steel frame was erected in 13 weeks and the building completed, ready for occupation, within 21 months. It made use of the management contract strategy that was pioneered in the UK by Arup Associates Group 2 at the Horizon Tobacco Factory, Nottingham (1968-72), whereby external construction management teams were engaged at the design stage, of fast-track construction, where construction stages and activities overlap rather than being executed in sequence, and a high degree of off-site prefabrication. Key to the design and its rapid construction was the use of a steel frame structure and the cladding, the latter manufactured by specialists Josef Gartner. Developed by Gartner in Germany, and first used in Britain in 1980 by York Rosenberg Mardell in the Hambro Life headquarters in Swindon, it incorporated a ‘double duty’ integrated cladding and heating system. The atrium plan, that Foggo had used effectively at Gateway Two, Basingstoke, Hampshire developed ideas on office circulation that were explored by Arup Associates across a range of projects. Designed to be energy-efficient, the atrium and extensive glazed curtain walling provided naturally-lit office floors; sun screens externally and internally controlled solar gain, the ratio of mass to external surfaces limiting heat loss. The building was air-conditioned and the integrated heating system obviated the need for intrusive radiators. The building included one of the first Business Management Systems (BMS) - a computer based system to enhance efficiency and environmental control. Flexible servicing of office spaces was provided in raised floors for electrical and telecommunication cabling runs, and a suspended ceiling system that allowed lighting and air-conditioning to be moved and renewed. The atrium was built as a full-height interior space, around which, corresponding with the external modelling, floors projected on different planes, the space expanding in the central floors and narrowing at upper level. Each floor was treated separately, some with galleries and balconies set behind gridded balustrades, through which planting could spill, others shaded by vertical gridded screens attached to the vertical structure or, at upper level, diagonally-set sun screens. The atrium culminated in an octagonal, structural steel-framed glazed roof. Internal steel fixtures and fittings were originally white, in contrast to the bronzed exterior.Designed on the shell and core principle to be totally flexible between the outer skin and atrium, and rigorously detailed, the building proved easily adaptable to new fit-outs in 1986 and notably in 1996-7 when Arup Associates were employed to adapt the atrium to create a full-width trading floor above the third level. 1 Finsbury Avenue was widely acclaimed. Awards included the Financial Times Architecture at Work Award 1985, the Structural Steel Design Award 1985 and in 1987 the RIBA London Regional Award. Peter Foggo (1930-1993), was regarded 'as one of the most influential architects of his generation' (Building Design 12 Aug 1994, 10). Influenced by Louis Kahn in America, his work was noted for its careful and precise integration of building services with office and circulation space. Born in Liverpool, he studied architecture at Liverpool University. After graduation he worked for Architects' Co-Partnership, and in his spare time designed a number of small private houses in collaboration with his fellow-graduate David Thomas, including Sorrell House near Chichester, West Sussex (1960, Grade II*). He joined the practice of Ove Arup and Partners in 1959, from which Arup Associates was established in 1963, and was appointed senior partner in charge of Group 2 in 1969. Group 2 was responsible for an important sequence of speculative and commissioned offices for corporate clients including Gateway House (1974-6), Gateway Two (1981-2), both in Basingstoke, but 1 Finsbury Avenue was Foggo’s first major urban building. After Finsbury Avenue and Broadgate, Foggo in 1989 established his own practice, Foggo Associates. He died prematurely in 1993.


Speculative offices, 1982-4 by Arup Associates, Group 2 (Peter Foggo) for Rosehaugh Greycoat Estates Ltd; management contractor, Laing Management Contracting Ltd; external cladding by Josef Gartner (UK) Ltd. Eight floors of commercial offices, originally set round an atrium, now reordered as a lower enclosed hall and upper light well. Basement carpark to the south, ground floor commercial outlets, including a pub, to the north.

STRUCTURE, MATERIALS Rolled steel frame with bolted connections, columns set on a 6 x 6 m grid, increased to 6.75m on the central section, diagonal bracing and metal decking as the permanent formwork for light concrete floors. Dark bronze-anodised aluminium curtain walling designed and manufactured by Josef Gartner; an integrated cladding system that incorporates perimeter heating by the circulation of hot water through hollow window frames; stair towers clad in aluminium sheeting. Bronzed aluminium brises soleil and steel cross bracing. Polished pink/brown granite plinths, ground floor fascias, door and window surrounds. The structure, detail and services are very precisely engineered and integrated within the ‘tartan grid’ developed by Arup Associates.

PLAN The building has a symmetrically arranged c 57m x 84 m footprint, forming the east side of Wilson Street and the west side of Finsbury Avenue Square. It comprises eight floors of commercial offices, with a basement carpark to the south, originally also with sport facilities in the basement and a ground floor pub to the north. As built, offices were set round a central atrium with service cores north and south of it internally. Stairs, expressed externally as curved aluminium steel clad towers, rise towards the outer ends of the long elevations. Entrances from Wilson Street and Finsbury Avenue Square now open onto two-storey lobbies leading to a three-storey central hall c18m x 18m, formerly a full height atrium that was intended as a public thoroughfare, before greater security was required.

EXTERIOR 1 Finsbury Avenue is of eight storeys, with landscaped terraces stepped down the long sides at the fifth and sixth floor levels, intended in part to reduce the impact of the building when seen at street level. The building has centrally placed entrances, one from Wilson Street and one from Finsbury Avenue Square expressed by set backs on the upper floors.

Simple elevations are enlivened with cross-braced projections which support brises soleil which allow greater areas of glass behind and provide maintenance walkways while also contributing to the aesthetic.

Stair towers are clad in narrow, vertical aluminium panels. Ground floor granite cladding is channelled at the angles and chamfered at the base of the towers.

The centre of the north elevation is set back between forward arms, the same aesthetic applied to it. The south elevation, also partly set back, is treated as a single plane of glazed curtain walling.

INTERIOR In 1997 the atrium was enclosed at third floor level to create an uninterrupted trading floor. The facades of the atrium were simplified, aligning the upper floors on one vertical plane defined by the shafts, simplifying the tartan grid; most of the original balustrades and screens have been removed. The glazed roof was refurbished and a horizontal baffle grid ceiling was inserted at level 7 to reduce glare and support a lighting and services gantry. The lower hall rises through three storeys beneath a backlit ceiling, resembling the sky. It is reached by two-storey east and west lobbies. The plan of the reception area has been reordered and simplified, ground floor cladding and floor surfaces have been replaced.

EXCLUSIONS The former atrium was significant to the historic plan, but all structural intervention and changes to the fabric made in 1997 and thereafter are excluded from the listing.* Aside from the essential structure, all internal fixtures and fittings are excluded from the listing.* Basement levels, including the garage are excluded from the listing.* The interiors of ground floor commercial outlets are also excluded from the listing.*

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.