The Late 20th-Century Commercial Office

BookThe Late 20th-Century Commercial Office

The Late 20th-Century Commercial Office

Introductions to Heritage Assets

Historic England Guidance


July 6th, 2016





In the later 20th century ever-larger, and sometimes architecturally ambitious, commercial office buildings proliferated in many cities.

The deregulation and globalisation of the UK’s financial services sector in the 1980s led to a dramatically increased demand for a new types of work space while the ‘Big Bang’ in October 1986 led to changes in the financing of developments, an influx of foreign investment banks and a speculative property boom. These developments had the greatest impact on the City of London, but also contributed to the growth of secondary financial centres such as Canary Wharf, Leeds and Manchester.

After recession in the early 1990s the commercial property market rallied, and competition between regional financial centres and further deregulation contributed to the return of the tall building to the urban skyline.

This short guide provides an introduction to the development of commercial office buildings in late 20th-century England. It is intended to support the listing selection guide on Commerce and Exchange Buildings.

Author Information

Geraint Franklin is an architectural historian with Historic England.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
1. Historical background
2. Architecture of the commercial office
3. Associations
4. Further reading
5. Acknowledgements