Royal Institute of British Architects - Portland Place, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 31.269 W 000° 08.712
30U E 698049 N 5711645
Quick Description: The Royal Institute of British Architects building is on the north east side of Portland Place at the junction with Weymouth Street. Needless to say, the architect won the RIBA Gold Medal several years later.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 8/24/2013 11:10:16 AM
Waymark Code: WMHXMN
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member coisos
Views: 0

Long Description:

The Architecture website tells us:

Welcome to 66 Portland Place, home of the Royal Institute of British Architects. An Art Deco landmark in the heart of the West End of London, 66 Portland Place offers every kind of venue in a single, spectacular building.

As befits the headquarters of the British architectural profession, 66 Portland Place is a showpiece of design and craftsmanship. Events held in this centrally located London venue gain prestige and impact from the surroundings, which are as impressive today as they were when the building was first designed in the early 1930s. The architect was George Grey Wornum (1888- 1957), whose design was judged the best of 3600 entries in a competition for a new RIBA headquarters. Completed in 1934, the building was opened by King George V and Queen Mary. Art and craft are everywhere, from the decorated bronze front doors and sculpted figures either side of them to the etched glass screens and wooden paneling that can be found throughout the interior.

The building is Grade II* listed with the entry at the English Heritage website telling us:

1932-34 by G. Grey Wornum as the result of a competition. Steel framed and reinforced concrete construction clad in Portland stone; flat roof. Deep rectangular plan filling 2 original house plots back to mews. Scandinavian influenced Neo Classicism with carefully proportioned and restrained use of formal and sculptural details emphasising institutional character whilst respecting the overall scale of the C.18 Portland Place; plain annexe front to north, 3 storeys (with blind 3rd floor) and set back attic storey, the annexe with 6 storeys in the same height, on basement. 3 windows wide with 11-window return; 3 window annexe. Broad square headed doorway centred in rusticated ground floor with bold simply moulded architrave surround; large double bronze relief doors by James Woodford, flanked by free-standing -sculptured monoliths. Through storey large window above doorway in architrave surround rising into blind 3rd floor level with shallow relief figure carved above. Flanking bays have tall 1st floor windows, shorter 2nd floor ones and square ones to 4th floor,all with shallow architrave mouldings. Plat band finishing off ground floor rustication. Bold sharply profiled crowning cornice. Plain set back attic storey. Weymouth Street return has outer windows wider spaced from chain range of 9, similar details to flanking windows on front but with continuous bronze balcony to 2nd floor and the blind 3rd floor with figured bas-relief panels by B. Copnall. The annexe has similar plain fenestration but with 2 storeys of windows in the double height of main block 1st floor separated by balconettes and plain square windows in 4th floor. Bronze area railings to annexe and Weymouth Street. Fine unaltered interior by Wornum and his wife with high standard of finishes and intact fittings; grand central staircase going across to lecture and memorial halls; excellent use of ornamental engraved and frosted glass; galleried library, etc.

The Scottish Architects website ( tells us:

George Grey Wornum was born in London on 17 April 1888, presumably a relative of Ralph Selden Wornum, to whom he was articled from 1906 to 1909. In the latter year he moved to the office of Simpson & Ayrton as assistant. He commenced independent practice in London the following year. He served during the war, 1914-1918, being wounded in the leg and losing his right eye. He worked in partnership with Philip Dalton Hepworth from 1919 and with Louis de Soissons from c.1921 to 1930. Thereafter he practised alone, although collaborating with, among others, P G Freeman, E Maxwell Fry, A C Tripe, Lionel S Smith and possibly Arthur William Kenyon. At the end of the Second World War he entered into partnership with Edward Playne. This partnership lasted until Wornum's death in New York on 11 June 1957. At some point Wornum had practised in San Francisco (since 1945).

Wornum was the president of the AA in 1930-31, and was a member of the RIBA council in 1935. He married Miriam Alice Gerstle of San Francisco in 1923 and had a son and two daughters. His publications included 'Housing, a European Survey' for the Building Centre, and 'House out of Factory, ' with John Gloag.

Architect: George Grey Wornum

Prize received: RIBA Royal Gold Medal

In what year: 1952

Website about the Architect: [Web Link]

Website about the building: [Web Link]

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