I have been rather slow in uploading photos etc from London Open House Weekend, so here is another one.

I managed to book tickets for a visit to the Centre Point tower in central London. It had been my second try at a tour as the tickets “sell out” very fast, so it is worth being prepared next year if you want to go up as well.

The building is famous for quite a few reasons, partly for dominating the skyline in the West End of London – but also for the controversial way the builder kept it empty for several years as it was cheaper than letting out part of the building (I blame the government tax system).

As a building, its a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it – and I am in the “love it” camp.

The building is named after the fact that is sited directly on the point where several postal code districts meet up – hence the center point. On a more grisly note, it was also once the site of a gallows.

IMG_6487So, on Saturday morning I trotted along and wandered around the building a bit to find the entrance. After a wait, we were introduced to our guide who was going to take our group of 22 people around.

We went up to what is now the mezzanine floor – but was originally the main entrance to the building. When it was constructed, the entrance was on the 1st floor, and the whole ground area was open to the public. This tended to encourage less than desirable types to sleep there at night etc – so the ground floor was recently sealed off and the entrance moved down to the ground. The mezzanine remains though, and during the works the original tiling was restored and repaired, and carried out by the same firm which laid the tiling originally.

We then took a wander along to the original 60s style staircase which leads up to the “overbridge” which runs over a main road – and is now a conference area for the CBI.

Original 60s staircase

The off to the exciting bit – a trip up the very fast lifts to the 25th floor. The floor is unoccupied – and hence has nothing to see inside, but we were there for the views, which are quite stunning.

I think it stands out a bit mainly as it is not surrounded by other tall buildings, so the effect is very different from the tall buildings I have been inside in the City of London (Gherkin and Tower 42).

IMG_6493

After spending some time gazing out and snapping away with the camera, we went down part of the way to the 17th (or 16th?) floor where a cafeteria takes up half a floor and we could get a few more photos. Typically, the sunny morning haze was just starting to clear now, but the views were still pretty good.

25th floor of Centre PointOne thing struck me though is how small the floor space is – it should be obvious when you look at the building, but inside the floors still felt oddly small. I guess maybe 30 people could fit in each floor before it gets too crowded to work comfortably. Modern offices tend to want much larger floor spaces – but as a flagship office, it still takes some beating.

You can also hire out conference rooms there for meetings – and the security guards were keen to hand out leaflets promoting the service. I also picked up an internal newsletter with a nice drawing of the building on the front cover. There was a competition to win the original drawing, but it closed the day before the tour – damn!

Overall, a very interesting hour spent mainly looking outside the building and not at the building itself.

Incidentally, last week I was back at the building as it was being used as a meeting point for a walking tour I was on and as I chatted to the organizer – I mentioned the building and he looked up in some surprise and said he had never really noticed it before. Sigh :(

Lots of photos in the usual place – on my Flickr account.

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