While the exterior of the RIBA headquarters is under scaffolding for cleaning (see our previous post), hiding many of the original features on the façade, then perhaps now is a good time to take a closer look at some of these details and see why this building is worth so much care and attention.

Detail, bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

Detail, bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

Detail (St Paul's Cathedral and the Thames), bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

Detail (St Paul's Cathedral and the Thames), bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

Detail (James Woodford's wife and child), bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

Detail (James Woodford's wife and child), bronze main entrance doors, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library)

 

The bronze doors
One of the most striking features are the cast bronze doors at the main entrance to 66 Portland Place. Each door is 12 feet high by 6 feet wide (3.65m by 1.82m) and weighs 1.5 tons. They date from when the building was first opened in 1934 and were designed by James Woodford.

The doors depict ‘London’s river and its buildings’. Flowing across their surface are representations of the Thames. An eclectic mix of ancient and what was then considered modern architecture in London are interspersed around the river and coat of arms relating to the local area. Buildings featured on the doors include: St. Paul’s Cathedral, a London Underground tunnel, London Zoo, an LCC tenement, and the former RIBA HQ at 9 Conduit Street. As well as buildings, on the doors in relief are people, wildlife, and various modes of transport from London.

Visit 66 Portland Place to see more. The building and all its facilities (Library, bookshop, restaurant and  exhibitions) remain open to the public as normal while the works continue.

 

The bronze main entrance doors, RIBA, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection)

The bronze main entrance doors, RIBA, 66 Portland Place (Copyright: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection)

For more images of the building,  go to RIBApix.

 

Find out more: guides and tours
For more information, download an architectural guide about the history and architecture of the building. Tours of the building can be arranged by appointment, contact the RIBA Library for more information by emailing: info@riba.org .  As part of the celebration of architecture across the capital, during Open House London on 17 September 2011 there will be free tours of the building, led by staff from the Library.

 

Measuring up to our neighbours
66 Portland Place doesn’t exist in isolation; if you are curious about how its unique doors compare to those of its neighbours, then here are a few pictures of other doors along Portland Place:

 

Doorways along Portland Place, London. Photograph by Jonathan Ridsdale

Doorways along Portland Place, London. Photograph by Jonathan Ridsdale

 

About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit www.architecture.com

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1 Comment
  1. Andrew Cleminson

    August 19, 2011

    Dear RIBA

    Fascinating!

    I very much enjoyed the post and like the way you have concentrated on bringing us architectural detail.

    I will have to take a closer look when I am next in Portland Place … and at your neighbours as well!

    Best regards

    Andrew

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