I rarely go to Leicester Square, there’s nothing there for me, its quite soulless these days and it’s just a place for those who have money.
I have however noticed the redevelopment on the west side of the square in what was largely once the huge Mc Donalds (and soon to become a newer McDonalds!) This building was built in the 1920s and is known as 48 Leicester Square, perhaps otherwise Fanum House, famously known as the erstwhile headquarters of the Automobile Association (AA).
The building was reduced to a shell and its interior rebuilt completely. This work, tied in with the demolition of the adjacent Odeon, has become more apparent, the cinema’s former space opening up previously unseen panoramas from the south, giving number 48 a huge presence towards the National Portrait Gallery, one that will disappear once the former Odeon site is finished.
Apparently the clocks on the four corners of the building are copies of the one original that stood on the corner of New Coventry/Whitcomb Street! The original 1920s clock itself is/was for sale at £4,200. A rather big bong for anyone who needs one 🙂
The blackbirds around the centre of the refurbished building (which now houses the new Lego store) are where smaller windows immediately above the ground floor used to be. These birds quite fascinate me for its a good attempt at giving reworked buildings a new lease of life (such as that found on City Road) but at the same time pertaining to a bit of nice architectural licence which is nice for the setting and for the eye.
The reason for the birds is exactly one reason why I rarely visit Leicester Square. Besides the aforementioned money spinning bit, it suffers from a huge deficit of nature. The square itself has little appeal for me.
That deficit is exactly the reason why Glaswegian artist, Kenny Hunter, sculpted these birds.
When the work was underway the entire frontage was covered with a huge building-wrap picturing (yes you’ve guessed it) blackbirds, as the following tweet shows:
— Big Picture (@BigPicturemag) April 5, 2016
Sectorlight commissioned Joseph Ford to take the photographs needed to create a building-wrap that would last for the duration of the refurbishment works. Although the wrap-round has gone, some of Joseph’s photos can still be seen at the front of the building in Swiss Court (next to the new Lego store.)
Joseph Ford photo at front of building.