LSE Global Centre for the Social Sciences

A proposal for the London School of Economics and Political Science

Project Date
London, UK
Architectural Designer
Grafton Architects
London School of Economics
Team Members
Ger Carty, Simona Castelli, James Rossa O'Hare, Eibhlin Ní Chathasaigh, Joanne Lyons, Edwin Jebb, Leah Hogan, Shane Twohig

Grafton Architects was one of five shortlisted firms invited to submit a proposal for the LSE's new Global Centre for the Social Sciences, competing against firms including OMA, Heneghan Peng, Hopkins Architects, and eventual winners, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

The brief for the new Centre called for world-class architecture which matches LSE’s international academic reputation. The brief also specified the need to demolish and redevelop a number of existing buildings on Houghton Street and Clare Market on the School’s Aldwych campus.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Working closely with Principal Architects and project team on conceptual design development.
  • Production / preparation of building floor plans under guidance of Project Architect.
  • Collaborating with team-members for successful production of graphic sectional drawings, diagrams and 3D images.
  • Designing and cooordinating final board layouts.



Animating the streetscape

The building is horizontally layered, with ground floor transparency, "skywalks" on the upper floors providing shading and visual connectivity, and upper levels that are shaped to react to the surrounding built context.



The design aimed to maximize light and vertical connectivity between the different spaces and floors. This was a huge challenge given the tight constraints of the inner city site and the demanding programmatic requirements of the project brief.

A major element of the design was the incorporation of 'skywalks' at the upper levels. These pulled away from the main bulk of the building, animating the facade and creating voids to the floors below. Similarly, the subterranean levels below the ground floor have generous voids opening above them, creating visual connections to the street and ground floor spaces.

A similar spatial move is used at Grafton's award-winning Bocconi University in Milan.



Street Level

The ground floor reacts to the surrounding context, promoting an active streetscape. Void is utilized to create layered interior spaces that blur boundaries between inside and outside, and between interior spaces within the building itself.