DCMS refuses to grant five-year immunity certificate for former Greater London Authority base

Foster & Partners’ City Hall building, which served as the headquarters for the mayor of London for almost 20 years, could soon get listed status, it has emerged.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has declined a request for a “certificate of immunity from listing” – or COI – made on behalf the building’s owners, which could have offered a window for radical redevelopment of the structure, or even demolition.

Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan relocated the Greater London Authority and London Assembly to Wilkinson Eyre’s The Crystal building earlier this year as part of a bid to save the capital £61m in rent over the next five years.

Campaign group the Twentieth Century Society placed Fosters’ City Hall on its buildings at risk list when the prospect of Khan and the GLA relocating operations became a firm prospect. However it was unsuccessful in getting listed status for the building last year.

It welcomed culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision not to grant building owners St Martins Property Group the COI it sought earlier this year for the structure, which was described by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone as a “glass testicle”.


The helical walkway inside Inside Foster & Partners’ City Hall building

The group stressed it was not opposed to a new use being sought for the building, which was strongly informed by Foster’s previous renovation and adaptation of the Reichstag in Berlin.

It said Foster & Partners’ support for the granting of a COI for the building had been “surprising”, even though the practice declared its attachment to the structure.

“C20 Society would stress that listing of the building would not prevent it from having a new use, with the ‘sympathetic adaptions’ and ‘sensitive interventions’ Foster & Partners reference still achievable within a building of significant architectural and heritage value,” it said.


Inside the glass dome of Foster & Partners’ Reichstag in Berlin

The former City Hall’s interior features a helical walkway which spirals up the full 10-storey height of the building. The structure also houses an assembly chamber, committee rooms, offices for the mayor, assembly members and support staff.

A publicly accessible space at the highest point of the building known as “London’s Living Room” was never fully opened as intended following a review of security in the wake of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. It was used as private events space, however.

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Wilkinson Eyre’s The Crystal building at the Royal Docks, which has been transformed into the Greater London Authority’s new City Hall