Commercial Union House, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Howell Brooks Tucker and Partners
Date Built
Opened 1971
Pilgrim Street
It is difficult not to ask the question about the design of this building, "What were they thinking?"  Pilgrim Street remains one of Newcastle's most historic streets but mixed in with the architecturally interesting and historically significant are a number of buildings that can only be described as problematic.  An Urban Design Analysis Background Report for the East Pilgrim Street Regeneration Opportunity Area, summed up the Commercial Union Building this way, "A more recent addition to Pilgrim Street, Commercial Union House, has an adverse impact on the historic character of the street. It obscures sightlines along the street and views of important historic buildings and does not respect the building line. The building by physically intruding into the street impacts on the overall perception of the street as a continuous form. ... The East Pilgrim Street area has a number of landmarks some of which could be considered to make a positive contribution to the public space such as the tower of the Laing, Carliol House, the Fire Station and St Andrews Church and others which could be considered to make a negative contribution to the streetscape such as the Commercial Union House and Bank House."

The building is representative of the kind of pre-cast office blocks from that period and not unlike the Commercial Union's building in Manchester, shown below.