No 1 Poultry
No 1 Poultry is an office and retail building in London. It was designed by James Stirling for a site then owned by developer Peter Palumbo, and first assembled by Palumbo's father Rudolph in the 1960's. Originally intended to be the site of an office tower designed by Mies van der Rohe in the manner of the Seagram Building NYC, that scheme was aborted following one of the great architectural and planning show-downs of the 1970s. The present building was completed in 1997, five years after Stirling's death, and is one of the most successful postmodern buildings in London with use of bold, but perhaps unsubtle, forms and colours in a compact assembly. It is clad in pink and yellow limestone, fixed in stripes and blocks of colour whilst the interior atrium at the centre of the wedge-shaped site displays some of Stirling's characteristic acidulous colour play. Like many of the best postmodern buildings the imagery is rich in references. For example, from the sharp apex of the site a keyhole shaped opening leads to a little-seen Scala Regia with a ramped floor, gold-leafed terminus and ancient Egyptian aura takes visitors into the heart of the building. Intended as Palumbo's private entrance this space is today little used: Palumbo sold the development before its completion. The turret above is sometimes likened to a submarine conning tower while the glazed two sided clock is in concept and detail a direct quotation from the Fascist era main post office in Naples. Completed nearly two decades after the first designs were published its reception among architectural critics suffered from the fact that the heyday of postmodernism was already over. Amongst the readers of Time Out magazine, it was voted the fifth worst building in London. However, its powerful image means it is often photographed as a symbol of the new London. Its construction required the fiercely fought demolition of the nineteenth century neo-gothic listed building on the apex of the site, occupied by crown jewellers Mappin and Webb. While construction was underway, a major archaeological dig was undertaken by the Museum of London Archeological Service MOLAS (directed by Peter Rowsome). This excavation made several significant discoveries, including a wooden drain along the main Roman road. Using dendrochronology, this was dated to AD 47, suggesting this may be the date of the founding of Roman Londinium. The Coq d'Argent restaurant is sited on the rooftop of No 1 Poultry and has a terrace and formal garden for drinkers and diners with panoramic views.


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Building Activity

  • removed a media and updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via
  • updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator