Thursday, 14 October 2010

10 Trinity Square and Sir Edwin Cooper - Civic Pride


10 Trinity Square

Last month it was confirmed that the 490,000 sq ft 10 Trinity Square in the City of London was ear-marked for redevelopment into a hotel, spa and flats. The building is located on a diagonal plot on Tower Hill, overlooking the Tower of London and the Thames. Designed as the headquarters of the Port of London Authority by the architect Sir Edwin Cooper, the building was opened by the then Prime Minister Lloyd George in 1922. This iconic building’s finest hour was when it housed the reception for the inaugural meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946.

It is without question a truly striking building in the Beaux Arts style. The elements of this style of architecture can include; an imposing grand stairway, large arched openings, a variety of stone finishes, monumental columns, a classical ornamental entablature topped with a tall parapet, a balustrade or attic storey, a pronounced cornice and decorative swags, medallions, cartouches, and sculptures.
Sir Edwin Cooper

Initially I was horrified to hear that the redevelopment plan for 10 Trinity Square was to completely replace the rotunda that dominates the centre of the building, leaving only the facade (which I personally see as a lazy and ill-informed attempt to preserve the historic environment).

However, further research has revealed that due to significant bomb damage during World War II, the rotunda is in fact a post-war replacement and essentially it is only the exterior of this building that can be credited to Cooper. But not only is the building something of note – so is Sir Edwin Cooper. I researched one his other landmark buildings a couple of years ago – The Council House (otherwise known as Marylebone Town Hall) on the Marylebone Road, in London. In my opinion his architectural legacy is over-looked in the 21st century.

Marylebone Town Hall
Sir Edwin Cooper was born in Yorkshire in 1873. He studied architecture in Britain as well as France and Italy and was in professional practice from the 1890s. He became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1903 and was knighted in 1923. In 1931 he received the Royal Gold Medal from the RIBA.

It has been said that Sir Edwin Cooper designed more buildings in the City of London than Sir Christopher Wren a few among them including the Old Lloyd’s Building in Leadenhall Street, No 1 Princes Street and No 40 St May’s Axe.
No 1 Princes Street
He was also the architect of the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond, Surrey, the Kingston-upon-Hull Guildhall and Law Court, The South London Hospital for Women (opposite Clapham South Tube Station), Devonport House, Greenwich and St Hilda’s College Oxford. As you can see, his reputation was in civic and public buildings. If his renown had extended to private residences he could well have been celebrated today as readily as his contemporary, another Sir Edwin – Sir Edwin Lutyens.

In 1937 he succeeded Lutyens as President of the Incorporated Association of Architects and Surveyors. The irony with such an impressive career record was that he was unable to describe himself as a registered architect owing to his refusal to pay the annual subscription of 6 shillings and 9 pence to the Architects Registration Council. Sir Edwin Cooper died suddenly “with his boots on” in his office in June 1942.

So while only the facade of 10 Trinity House is to be retained. It would appear we weren't meant to have it in its original entirety anyway. And at least we will continue to see Cooper's amazing Beaux Arts facade in the years to come, when the building has been given renewed purpose.

No comments:

Post a Comment