Alison Brooks, David Chipperfield and John McAslan among field of six runners

LSE competition

35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

The London School of Economics and Political Science has revealed the six design teams it has shortlisted for the £100m-plus development of a new academic building on Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

It features Alison Brooks Architects, with Nigerian practice Studio Contra; David Chipperfield Architects with south-east London-based Feix & Merlin Architects; and John McAslan & Partners, working with US practice Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

Also in the running to redevelop the former Royal College of Surgeons building at 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the project are Belfast-based Hall McKnight; Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios working with Danish practice Lendager; and a joint bid from Denmark’s Dorte Mandrup with John Robertson Architects.

LSE’s brief is for a new academic building of 12,540 sq m, which will house conference facilities, executive education, a data science institute and associated academic departments and the Firoz Lalji Africa Institute. The project is also expected to be LSE’s first net-zero carbon building.

Launching the RIBA-run competition in December, LSE director of estates Julian Robinson said he was open to smaller practices entering in partnership with more established firms, as well as to the possibility of international studios teaming up with local architects.

He also cautioned that redevelopment of 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields was likely to be the university’s last big commission for the foreseeable future and “has to be an outstanding piece of architecture, further enhancing the reputation and brand of LSE”.


Source: Nigel Stead/LSE

O’Donnell & Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock student centre at the LSE, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2014

RIBA’s architect adviser to LSE Cindy Walters said the competition attracted architectural practices of the highest calibre from around the world, and that more than 100 expressions of interest had been received.

“The shortlist is a rich and balanced mix of extraordinary architectural talent, who have all placed environmental sustainability front and centre of their aspirations for the project,” she said.

“The selection process has been rigorous and inclusive and reflects the ambition of the exceptional client that the LSE has become.”

Shortlisted teams are due to present their proposals to the project jury panel in mid-May. The panel includes Julian Robinson, David Higgins, former LSE student and project benefactor Firoz Lalji, LSE professor Ricky Burdett and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects.

Previous winners of LSE design competitions include Grimshaw Architects, O’Donnell & Tuomey, RHSP and Grafton Architects.

O’Donnell & Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock student centre for LSE was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2014.

The site and retention

35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields was occupied by the Royal College of Surgeons until the LSE bought it, giving it ownership of most of the south side of the historic square.

The university said its architectural advisors had concluded that there were two possible strategies for redeveloping 35 LIF.

One suggests retaining part of the core structure of the building to save in embodied carbon. But this will need to be balanced against the brief requirements in relation to efficiency and floor area, it said.

The second envisages demolition to street level while preserving most of the basement areas should this be technically feasible.