Centre Point - New Oxford Street, London, UK


Richard Robin Seifert & Partners
Date Built
1963 - 1966
101-103 New Oxford Street, WC1 near to the Tottenham Court Road Underground Station
This 34-storey concrete and glass building sits at the junction of Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street, Charring Cross Road and New Oxford Street.  Built as a speculative office tower, Centre Point was completed in the mid 1960's.  The speculation didn't work out very well though because the building sat empty for a decade.  It was also widely criticised as something of an eyesore.  Pevsner described it as, "coarse in the extreme."  However, in contrast the Royal Fine Art Commission described it as having an "elegance worthy of a Wren steeple" and it has been awarded Grade II Listed status. 

The listing information at English Heritage plots out the history of this development.  "In March 1957, Hubert Bennett, the new LCC Chief Architect, produced a design for an 18-storey building, with nine and eleven-storey blocks to the east to rehouse the people living on the site. Legal disputes beween the LCC and landowners over compensation were circumvented by Harry Hyams' Oldham Estates Co, which purchased the land as a speculative undertaking whereby the LCC would receive the land required for road widening in exchange for a higher development than would normally allowed under the LCC's 'plot ratio' regulations. .....

.... Hyams engaged Richard Seifert and Partners as his architects. Seifert's leading design partner was George Marsh, who had previously w
orked for Burnet, Tait and Partners. In November 1959 an application for a 29-storey office block, with an 8-storey block of shops and flats, linked by a bridge over a gyratory, received outline planning permission from Camden Council, and designs for a 31-storey curtain-wall tower with a lozenge-shaped plan, closely resembling the Pirelli Tower, Milan (1955-60 by Gio Ponti, Pier Luigi Nervi and others), were drawn up. Further modifications were required due to the LCC's demand for wider roads, and Seifert negotiated a reduction in the tower's footprint in return for two more storeys, plus an extra storey on the link; the lower block was subsequently widened. Work began on the lower block in 1961."


The images below show Centre Point in 2019 nearing the completion of a multi-year refurbishment and repurposing.  The almacantar.com website explains that, "...Having acquired the building in 2011, Almacantar appointed Conran and Partners and Rick Mather Architects, now MICA, to restore the London landmark by taking into account the character of the building, its unique position on London’s skyline and the dynamic surrounding area."  Adding that, "....    Centre Point will be transformed into 82 apartments set above a new square lined with shops and restaurants and West End’s finest destination."  Tim Bowder-Ridger of Conran Design claime that, ".. When the revival of Centre Point is completed, we believe it will restore this building in its rightful place as one of London's most cherished design classics - a modernist masterpiece in the heart os a great creative city."

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