The ICE headquarters building

Year:1913

Duration:3 years

Cost:Unknown

Country: London, UK

What did this project achieve?

Build a landmark headquarters for what became the Institution of Civil Engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers' headquarters at 1 Great George Street in central London has been ICE's home for over a century.

Completed in 1913, the neoclassical building still has many of its original features. They include the oak-lined council room and reading rooms with panelled walls of walnut wood. There's also a lecture theatre named after Thomas Telford – ICE's first president.

ICE started life without a permanent base. For the first few years after its foundation in 1818, members met in coffee houses around London or hired rooms near Charing Cross station. The institution later leased a building close to the Houses of Parliament.

There was another move when later purpose-built headquarters completed in 1895 had to make way for the expansion of nearby government buildings.

ICE members had visited New York for meetings with their counterparts in the American Society of Civil Engineers. Inspired by the city's skyscrapers, ICE decided on a steel-framed structure for its new home.

Six architects were asked to put forward ideas. Scottish architect James Miller won the competition. His steel-framed design allowed for grand open spaces inside the structure as well as large windows, letting in plenty of natural light.

ICE's new home opened in 1913. Expansion in the 1930s saw the institution buy up leases of adjoining houses to create today's ICE headquarters

Difference One Great George Street has made

One Great George Street has provided a permanent home for ICE for more than a century.

As well as being the nerve centre of ICE activities, the building is now also a conference centre that provides income for the institution.

The structure is also a meeting place with facilities for ICE members visiting from all over the world – including a library and work spaces on the second floor.

How the work was done

Architect James Miller's design used a new building method – a steel-framed structure held up by pillars and clad with a Portland stone exterior.

The new headquarters took some inspiration from 2 recently opened buildings: London's Ritz hotel and the world famous Selfridges department store in Oxford Street. Both were steel-framed structures that allow for large open spaces inside.

Engineer Ferdinand Huddleston oversaw steelwork for the project. Huddleston had worked on London's Smithfield meat market and Liverpool Street station, among other landmarks.

The building's foundation stone was laid on 25 October 1910. A time capsule buried under the stone contains a copy of the ICE charters and by-laws as well as a bronze impression of the Telford medal. The Telford medal is an ICE award for a paper or series of papers.

In an early example of recycling, the project team took much of the new headquarters' walnut-wood panelling from the 1895 building along with shelving and some of the fireplaces.

Engineers constructed the second floor with a glass barrel roof and with several glass domes around the structure to make the most of available natural light.

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A magnificent Grade II listed, four-domed, Edwardian building

ICE building's website

Fascinating facts

The ICE building's distinctive features mean it's often used as a film location. Big screen productions filmed at 1 Great George Street include superhero blockbuster 'Wonder Woman', 'Eyes Wide Shut' starring Tom Cruise and Oscar-winning biopic 'Gandhi.'

TV dramas filmed at ICE include forensic pathology drama 'Silent Witness' and MI5 action series 'Spooks.'

As well as numerous weddings and conferences, the building has also been used for fashion shows and as the media centre for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

People who made it happen

  • Architect: James Miller
  • Structural engineer: Ferdinand Huddleston
  • Contracting engineer: John Mowlem and Son

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