Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Peter Ellis

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Oriel Chambers, 14-16 Water Street, Liverpool, constructed 1864-5
1866 office building at 16 Cook Street, Liverpool

Peter Ellis (1805-84) was a pioneering architect, who deserves to be better known. Quentin Hughes wrote that 'Few modern buildings foreshadow the Modern Movement so strikingly as his courtyard designs for Oriel Chambers and No. 16 Cook Street, Liverpool, built at a time when cast iron was tending elsewhere to deteriorate into an abundance of elaborate and florid decoration'.[1]

In 1864 Peter Ellis designed Oriel Chambers, a Grade I listed building, said to be the first office building in the world to make extensive use of glazed curtain wall construction, having an extensively glazed façade supported from an iron frame. The building was extended in the mid 20th century. It is believed to have influenced the design of tall office buildings, particularly in America through the work of Chicago architects John Wellborn Root and Daniel Hudson Burnham. Root had spent some time studying in Liverpool (1864-67).[2]

In 1866 '16 Cook Street' became the second building in the world to use glazed curtain wall construction. The most surprising feature is in the courtyard at the back - a separate spiral staircase with a large area of glass in slender cast iron mullions - see 'Engineering Timelines entry.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'Seaport - Architecture & Townscape in Liverpool' by Quentin Hughes, Lund Humphries, 1964
  2. [1] 'Engineering Timelines' website, Oriel Chambers webpage: good summary of the design and history