Portcullis House - London, UK

Michael Hopkins and Partners
Date Built
Opened 2001
At the northern end of Westminster Bridge
Portcullis House sits across Bridge Street from the Houses of Parliament.  The building provides office space and meeting rooms for Members of Parliament, as well as services including a number of restaurants and a library. 

The accommodation spaces are arranged around the four sides of the building and look inwards towards a large central atrium that features shade trees and ornamental pools.  The building is linked to the House of Parliament by an underground passageway.  Fourteen tall chimneys are arranged around the perimeter of the roof.  They are an important part of the
sophisticated, energy efficient, ventilation system.

Construction on Portcullis House couldn't begin until the excavation of the Jubilee Tube Line that passes beneath the site and the Westminster tube station, that sits below the building, were completed.  Apparently,
a thick slab of concrete separates Portcullis House from the station below, reportedly to defend against any underground bomb attacks.

The building has been beset by controversy.  An article on the BBC News website, written by Ben Davies in 2000, outlined the issues that prompted an inquiry.  He says, "Step into Portcullis House and you would be excused for believing you were in a glorified shopping centre or a luxury hotel.  Trickling pools of water, tall fig trees, a beautiful glass-topped atrium, cafes - they all go to create an atmosphere akin to upmarket consumerism. ....

..... But Portcullis House is, in fact, an extremely expensive office block for MPs...
With a bill of around £235 million - that's more than £1 million for each MP who has been able to secure a room ... The fig trees - which are leased from Belgium for five years - have cost £150,000, and bronze cladding in the building cost £30 million. ... It has had to cope with a leaking roof, malfunctioning lifts, and disabled toilets that some disabled people say they cannot access."

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