Fry and Drew: Buildings Now

Civil Engineering Building, Liverpool University

This is the Civil Engineering Building (1955-60), designed by Maxwell Fry and photographed last week in a snowy Liverpool.

The tower is decorated with a cast concrete panel of lettering, which lists names of the great and good of the structural and civil engineering world from Archimedes to Brunel. Situated directly over the main entrance, the panel acts as a potent reminder to students of their place in the engineering tradition. Reflecting the function of the building, this is Fry’s Modernist equivalent of a Classical decorative frieze.

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The following drawing by staff at Fry, Drew and Partners – taken from the Liverpool University Special Collections and Archives – shows the tower-and-podium typology used by Fry. Classroom accommodation is provided to the T-shape tower and large, basement workshops are top-lit via the podium. From the vantage point of the reception area, it is possible to look down into the workshops and see the engineers at work – mirroring the industry portrayed by Peter Lanyon’s mural, which sits adjacent to the viewing screen.

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For further discussion of the building and Fry’s other work for Liverpool University, see this online article.

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