Westminster Council House & Library, London

Sir Edwin Cooper
Date Built
Council Hall 1914-20
Library 1938-39
Marylebone Road
On the Marylebone Road between Gloucester Place and Upper Montagu Street are two municipal buildings by Sir Edwin Cooper built almost 20 yeares apart.  At the Gloucester Place end is the Westminster Council House (also referred to in some sources as Marylebone Town Hall).

This Grade II Listed building, clad in Portland stone, is described by Historic England as, ".... Edwardian Graeco-Roman classicism relying on mass and volume for broad fronted composition with elaboration reserved for Wren inspired central tower. Rusticated semi basement, 2 main storeys and attic storey. 13 bays wide, the 7 central bays advanced as centrepiece. ...... The attic is set back and taller above portico, fronted by a balustraded parapet, with pairs of vases surmounting dies, rising over the bracketed cornice of the entablature."

Two rather fine lions guard the entrance.

Below the Gloucester Place elevation.


At the other end of the block stands Cooper's St Marylebone Library and Health Centre with entrances on Marylebone Road and Uppoer Montagu Street.  It is also Grade II listed and described as a, ".... Stripped cubic version of Cooper's earlier Graeco-Roman Town Hall design. Basement, 3 storeys and attic storey. 5 windows wide, the end bays very slightly advanced. Central tetrastyle portico in antis through ground and 1st floors slightly overlapping the end bays; plain shafted giant Corinthian columns and pairs of antae, deep entablature with bracketed cornice and balustraded parapet with urn capped dies. Plain windows. 2nd floor band course to end bays and band course to 2nd floor parapet. The attic storey is set back over end bays but advanced and slightly taller to centre, in line with portico, with central thermal window flanked by cartouches and festooned frieze below parapet band course."

Instead of lions this time the entrance is flanked by bronze lampstandards featuring small scuptures of children.

The Upper Montagu Street elevation.

In 2018, when I took these images, the buildings had undergone a significant refurbishment converting them into the Sammy Ofer Centre, part of the London Business School.  This transformation was desiugned by Sheppard Robson who say that, "... The brief was to transform the iconic Old Marylebone Town Hall into a major new facility for the London Business School.  The project includes the refurbishment of Old Marylebone Town Hall’s Council House and Annexe buildings, using the excavated space between these to create a bold new glass and steel entrance and link structure.  ......

...... Architecturally, the building needed to broadcast the ambition of the client and have a strong urban presence along Marylebone Road. Whilst the majority of the building is dedicated to education – with the facility including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and a student lounge – the project also needed to accommodate civic and political uses.   ......  The glazed link structure creates a centrepiece for the design, forming a new distinct entrance to London Business School, giving sole use of the civic steps to the Council House to the Westminster Register Office.

The other major architectural addition is a new lecture theatre block to the rear of the building, which replaces a 1960s infill. Six lecture theatres have been added, with the largest two conjoining to create a space with the capacity of 200 people; this is used as the Council Chamber for Westminster’s monthly meeting. Externally, the design of the lecture block is characterised by a daring limestone curtain walling which projects out into the mews."

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