Lloyd's building

Year:1986

Duration:8 years

Cost:Unknown

Country: London, UK

What did this project achieve?

Build headquarters for the world’s best-known insurance brokers – that isn’t boring

Lloyd’s of London is one of the biggest insurance marketplaces in the world - millions of pounds of business are done by its underwriters every week.

Lloyd's has traded in the capital since the mid-17th century. It’s been based in or near the Lime Street area of the City of London since 1928. By the late 1970s the company was outgrowing its offices and needed to move.

Architects Richard Rogers and Partners won a competition to create a new headquarters for Lloyd's.

The innovative design put all the building’s services – including staircases, lifts and water pipes – on the outside. This left an uncluttered and flexible space inside and the ability to add or remove partitions or walls on any of the floors.

The building is seen as one of the foremost examples of the ‘high tech’ style of architecture that uses modern industry and technology as part of its design.

Other well-known ‘high tech’ structures are the Pompidou centre in Paris and the Willis building in Ipswich.

Despite its modern look, the new building incorporated elements of Lloyd's past. These included preserving the front of Lloyd's 1928 headquarters as an entrance.

Lloyd's was made a Grade 1 listed building in 2011 and the youngest in the UK to get this status.

Difference the building has made

The Lloyd's building has provided a home for one of the largest insurance brokers in the world. It’s seen as helping establish London as a centre of financial services in the 1980s.

The structure quickly became a city landmark and symbol of London both in the UK and overseas. It’s appeared in many films including ‘Mama Mia!’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.

How the work was done

The Lloyd's building is 88m high and has 14 floors. The cleaning cranes on top of the structure bring the overall height to 95m.

The building was designed with 3 main towers and 3 service towers built round a central, rectangular space on the ground floor.

This central space is the underwriting room – usually just called ‘the room’ – where insurance is bought and sold. It’s overlooked by 4 floors of galleries. These form a 60m high atrium lit by natural light.

As well as putting the building’s waterpipes and other services on the outside, engineers used other modern design elements for the structure.

These included stainless steel for the external conduits and ductwork – which is low maintenance and lasts for a long time.

Much of the outside of the building is exposed concrete. As concrete has a high thermal mass it helps regulate internal temperatures and control heating.

Engineers used 33,510m³ of concrete, 30,000m² of stainless steel cladding and 12,000m² of glass during construction.

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Universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch.

UK government agency Historic England

on the Lloyd's building

Fascinating facts

The underwriting room houses the Lutine bell, salvaged from the wreck of HMS Lutine in 1858.

It was once rung when a Lloyds-insured ship was overdue and likely to cost the institution money, the bell is now used to commemorate disasters or mark the death of a member of the Royal family.

The 11th floor of the Lloyds building houses an 18th-century dining room designed by Robert Adam in 1763. Known as the Committee Room, it was transferred piece by piece from Lloyd's previous headquarters.

People who made it happen

  • Architect: Richard Rogers and Partners
  • Structural engineers: Arup

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