Grand Junction House, Paddington Basin

An Elegy for a Lost Building

This new building, by Richard Rogers, was to consist of three grouped towers, 24, 32, and 40 storeys high, massed to form a giant triangle. The lower, 24 storey tower is similar in height to the nearby Hilton Hotel tower, which was built by Siefert in 1960, forty years earlier. The 32 floor tower responded to the new North Wharf Road streetscape, while the tallest tower would face Westway, another enormous linear construction. From the distance the three massed towers, being of different heights, will combine visually into one spire which changed as one moved round it.
Between the towers would be a central atrium of staggering height, with balconies around it to link the three towers. Below the ground would be the column-free theatre/dance space, car parking, delivery bays, coach parking, and service areas.

Above the Ground Floor, levels 2-24 were to provide office space. Levels 27-40 would be hotel accommodat­ion, while levels 42 and 43 would be public observation decks with breathtaking views. External lifts in the northern corner would give access to the hotel and public levels.

The main piazza was to link the Grand Junction Building and North Westminster Community School, across what is now the end of North Wharf Road. This road was to become a cul-de-sac with its entrance at the far end, much to the relief of the teachers. North Wharf Road, the cars and dust lorries swing round into Harrow Road, has always been a major hazard as. Instead of a death trap, the cleared land would become a landscaped piazza and a welcome extension of the school site.

In November 1986 Jessye Norman opened the highly successful Studio Theatre in North Westminster Community School. With the new building would come a new Community Theatre, built below Grand Junction House, on the other side of the piazza from the school and right in the centre of the new Basin Community which would be created in the following decade.


The New Community Theatre Below the Tower

 

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Updated January 29, 2011