The office and retail building once voted Time Out magazine’s fifth worst building in London, has been awarded Grade II* listed status.
No.1 Poultry was built on the site of the Mappin & Webb building, a 19th century neo-gothic listed building, which was demolished amid a fiercely fought and much publicised campaign. The original replacement design was not approved of by Prince Charles who referred to it in his famous ‘monstrous carbuncle’ speech made at the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1984. He said: “It would be a tragedy if the character and skyline of our capital city were to be further ruined and St Paul’s dwarfed by yet another giant glass stump, better suited to downtown Chicago than the City of London.”
The scheme was aborted in favour of a design by James Stirling, although the Prince didn’t approve of Stirling’s design either, describing it as looking “rather like an old 1930s wireless”. Completed in 1997, five years after the architect’s death, it features an outer shell of bands of rose-pink and yellow limestone. The front of the building is not unlike a submarine conning tower.
The building is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of postmodernist style in London, and has attracted much publicity, not all of it good. Over the years several people, including many bankers, have chosen to take their own lives by jumping from the roof.
On a more cheerful note, it was chosen for a starring role in the James Bond-themed film sequence for the Olympic opening ceremony, starring the Queen. Diners in the building’s roof terrace Coq d’Argent restaurant were seen waving at a helicopter supposedly flying Her Majesty with James Bond (played by actor Daniel Craig).