City University, Northampton Square, London

Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners
Northampton Square
Date Built
The City University of London started life as the Northampton Institute in 1894.  It became the City University in 1966.  Its main campus is located in Islington  between Spencer Street and Northampton Square.  The website explains that in 1957, prior to the transformation into a university, the London County Council had planned to expand what was the  Northampton Institute's site in the vicinity of Spencer Street and Goswell Road.  This involved the demolition of a number of houses on Northampton Square.  "In 1962–3 the College architects, now Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners, with Gordon Taylor as the partner in charge, drew up a scheme for phased extension with a series of separate but linked buildings. The LCC accepted that the central block to Northampton Square would rise to eight storeys, but imposed height limitations along Spencer Street and Ashby Street, also insisting that the new building should not be continuous, so as to maintain both pedestrian access and a view between the square and Spencer Street. ..... Work was expected to move from west to east, reaching completion in 1967. There were, however, delays and design changes. Objections gave rise to a public inquiry in 1964 and rehousing problems dragged on into 1966, when the formation of the University put the project on a different financial footing."

 A - Centenary Building
 C - University Building
 B - Drysdale Building
 D - Tait Building

"The first stages, built in 1966–70 by Marshall-Andrew & Co. Ltd, comprised a series of linked rectangular blocks of varying heights. To the west was the High Voltage Engineering Laboratory, extended and converted to lecture theatres in 1993–4, and renamed the Centenary Building. This juts out towards Spencer Street with a blind shuttered-concrete Brutalist exterior 'quoined' at the corners with the imprint of post-tensioning anchor points." (see below)

"Most of the other buildings are long low slabs of reinforced concrete faced with brown brick and continuous hardwood-framed windows in horizontal stripes.  .... Adjacent to the former High Voltage Laboratory is the Drysdale Building (formerly the Electrical Building)." (see below)

On the corner of Goswell Road and Spencer Street stands the Tait Building (see below).

The british-history site describes it as a, "... five-storey monolith, refinements to which had to be pruned as building costs rose. It houses the civil and mechanical engineering laboratories, classrooms and offices, and was named the Tait Building, after Sir James Tait, Principal and later Vice Chancellor, who saw the extension project through. It is an enclosed quadrangular block, at the centre of which stands the octagonal 350—seat Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, named after the Chairman of the Governing Body up to 1966."

The centre of the complex of buildings is the "University Building" with its entrance on Northampton Square. It is home to library services, student centre, main reception, security office and student refectory.

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