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© Mr Michael Perry

IoE Number: 480536
Photographer: Mr Michael Perry
Date Photographed: 02 September 2007
Date listed: 02 May 2000
Date of last amendment: 02 May 2000
Grade II*

The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.


BRISTOL ST 56 NE WHITCHURCH LANE 901-1/57/10063 HARTCLIFFE 02-MAY-00 (North side) Office building at W D and H O Wills F actory, with linked bus stop II* Also Known As: Office Building at Wills Cigarette, with linked bus stop, IMPERIAL PARK, HARTCLIFFE Headquarters office building and linked bus shelter. 1970-5 by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago with Yorke Rosenberg Mardall. I-section Cor-ten steel frame, with set back full-height glazing and concrete floors on steel beams, over reinforced concrete podium on mass concrete foundations; flat roofs, that to the podium landscaped with grid pattern of precast concrete slabs and planting outlined in blue paviours. The building consists of an `L'-shaped two-storey podium set in excavated ground, which bestrides an artificial lake and was intended for catering, postal services and computer equipment; above it is is a smaller five-storey office block. The exterior expresses these contrasting materials powerfully. The glazing system, with metal-framed windows, is set 1.8 metres back from the structure to prevent heat gain and to emphasise its transparency and grid-like form, which extends to form a cornice at roof level. Main entrance from car park on podium under projecting canopy. The podium is more massively expressed, with broad horizontal balcony fronts and metal balustrades. Windows with metal glazing, and with external blinds to the former computer rooms. A tunnel ascends from lowest floor to adjoining bus shelter, where it emerges under a broad Cor-ten steel, flat roofed canopy, the exit itself enclosed by glass panels similar to those on the building. Interiors. Brock paved floors to entrance lobby and lounges. Top floor (Level 7) Directors' suite has teak bloock floors, with dining room of travertine tiles. Otherwise the interiors were made deliberately simple to ensure maximum flexibility and a neutral harmony in which the surrounding landscape became the principal feature, with richness and interest originally supplied by rugs, banners and works of art (now removed). The podium includes within it a supermarket, bank and post office. The Wills European Headquarters office building at Hartcliffe has a significant place in the evolution of American office building in Britain. American firms, and SOM in particular, offered a quality of finish and ruthless attention to every detail not found in contemporary British work. Wills commissioned SOM in 1968 following an interview process, for they perfectly suited the clean corporate American image to which Wills aspired. The building is, however, more complex and characterful than earlier SOM work in England, the listed Heinz (LB Hillingdon) and Boots D90 (Nottingham) offices, in being entirely integrated with its landscaped setting and in incorporating other staff facilities. The building is also more exciting in its planning and use of materials, particularly in its placement over a lake and physical expression between the podium with its general functions and the more specialised offices above. It is a unique example of this style of American architecture to have `a human face' while having `a grand gesture of a bredth that English architects often find difficult to make. .. Such quality, so apparently effortless, only comes from painstaking attention to detail' (Architectural Review, p.211) The building is also noted as the most ambitious example in England of the use of Cor-ten steel, a complex alloy of manganese, vanadium and carbon steel which oxidises within three years to a tactile rust-brown finish that is maintenance free and has a life-expectancy of 800 years. Sources Building, 6 November 1970, pp.81-2; 25 May 1973, p.67; 26 September 1975, p.39 Architects' Journal, 13 December 1972, p.1373; 24 September 1975, p.641; 10 November 1976, pp.874-5 Acier, Stahl, Steel May 1974, pp.193-8 Architectural Review, October 1975, pp.196-213 Progressive Architecture, June 1976, 84-7 Constrado Project Studies, no.1, November 1973, pp.1-11

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