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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Barbican to get listed status
Barbican Centre, London
London's Barbican Centre took 30 years to complete
The concrete-clad Barbican Centre, a complex of buildings in the City of London that is notoriously difficult to navigate, is to become a listed building.

Arts Minister Tessa Blackstone has announced that the concrete structure is to get a Grade II listing following public consultation.

Baroness Blackstone
Blackstone: Completing a consultation began in the last government
Baroness Blackstone said that the building was being listed because of its special architectural interest, its scale, plan and cohesion.

The complex has a mixture of private apartments and public buildings such as The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a school for girls, the Arts Centre and a YMCA, all set around a large courtyard.

'Hate'

When it opened as the Barbican Arts Centre in March 1982, the Queen described it as "one of the wonders of the modern world".

But the building was criticised in 1989 by Adrian Noble, now the Royal Shakespeare Company director, who said: "The vast majority of RSC people hate the place profoundly."

The Barbican has been the Royal Shakespeare Company for the last 20 years, but Noble recently announced that it would spend less time at the Barbican, favouring the West End for more of its productions.

The complex was built between 1963 and 1982 at a cost of 153m (the equivalent of 400-500m today).

Adrian Noble
Noble: Coping with strike-threats over job-cuts
Plans for a 6m facelift were unveiled last October.

The foyer and public spaces are being redesigned to create what managing director John Tusa said would be "the best arts centre in Europe".

Work over the next five years should bring new lighting, highlight the internal features and improve the layout.

The idea is to return the centre to its original state rather than to alter it structurally.

The Grade II listing of post-war buildings was part of an initiative launched by the Government in 1995.

See also:

16 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Barbican gets 6m makeover
30 May 01 | Arts
All change at the RSC
02 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Barbican may get listed status
24 May 01 | Arts
RSC announces shake-up
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