George Kenyon’s civic centre is a rare survivor of 1960s architecture in Newcastle but was forward-looking with high quality materials and public sculptures and art
Designed by the city architect George Kenyon to fulfil both administrative and ceremonial roles, the Newcastle Civic Centre was completed in stages between 1956 and 1967. A striking building and one of the few surviving examples of 1960s architecture in the city, it is finished with high-quality materials throughout, while the elliptical council chamber stands out with its exposed concrete wall. The Civic Centre is also notable for its sculptures and other examples of modern public art, including two abstract murals by Victor Pasmore, an engraved glass screen by John Hutton, a tapestry by John Piper and the River God Tyne external sculpture by David Wynne featured in this photograph, which was published in the Manplan 7 issue of The Architectural Review, on the theme of ‘local government’. Here the building was criticised as a ‘flamboyant folly’ built in a city where funding was needed for more essential services, but it is now considered of great architectural significance: it acquired grade II* listing in 1995 and was included by the 20th Century Society in its 2014 list of 100 Buildings, 100 Years.