Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall

In the 1980s, I was invited by the publisher Maritz Vandenberg to study this building, which had always been one of my favourites. After many vicissitudes, including the very short life of the publishing house, my work resulted in publication of two long, rather different but overlapping, studies.

The first essay became a special issue of The Architects’ Journal in 1991 and the second a volume in the Phaidon series of monographs Architecture in Detail, in 1992.


John McKean, ‘The Royal Festival Hall: Master of Building’, The Architects’ Journal, 9 October 1991, p. 22-47; also leading article p. 5, comments p. 6-7, cantilevered stair working detail p. 51-53

John McKean, Royal Festival Hall, Phaidon, in the Architecture in Detail series, London, 1992. An expanded and updated edition was published in 2001, celebrating the hall’s 50th birthday.

Then in October 1995 I spoke at a symposium in the RFH. The subject was the hall’s past, present and future. Following my tale about what seemed its key importance, Trevor Dannatt and Bill Allen looked back to the late 1940s, Bob Maxwell to the late 1950s, and Richard Rogers and Graham Morrison forward to the end of the century. The chair was Gavin Stamp for The Twentieth Century Society.  My text is here.

Exactly twenty years later, November 2015, I spoke at a symposium, again organised by the Twentieth Century Society, about Peter Moro.

Royal Festival Hall