Monument record MYO4343 - University of York Central Hall


The University of York Development Plan published in 1962 envisaged a series of colleges, specialist science buildings, and a few 'special' structures: Central Hall, which was constructed as part of phase III of the development plan in 1966-1968, is the principal example of these special structures and is also the most prominent.


Grid reference Centred SE 6225 5051 (37m by 44m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Civil Parish Heslington, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

Central Hall was built to the designs of Robert Matthew and Johnson-Marshall and Partners (RMJM) with Stirrat Johnson-Marshall and Andrew Derbyshire as partners in charge. Sir Stirrat Johnson-Marshall was one of the most important and respected architects to emerge in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Externally the building dominates the campus lake, which surrounds it on three sides, and is the focus of the campus' most dramatic views. Its imaginative and bold design has resulted in a striking architectural form and massing that is the university's architectural tour de force and most prominent building.

Both externally and internally Central Hall has incurred alteration since its original construction, such as the replacement of the original timber windows with aluminium windows, the subsuming of the first-floor eastern balcony into the main body of the building to create additional storage areas, and interior refurbishment, but this has not significantly compromised its character or its special interest, which remains intact. The building was designed as a flexible multipurpose space for use in examinations, lectures, film showings, exhibitions, and ceremonial occasions, and so it has proved to be. The main auditorium in particular, with its retractable seating and removable sectional stage, enables a versatile and flexible space, and original features still survive, including brick-paved floors and stairs, and moveable catwalks serving the exposed steel roof. (Historic England Advice Report).

Listed Grade II for the following reasons:

Historic interest:
* it forms part of a wave of seven new universities that improved access to higher education and marked the high point of publicly-funded architecture in post-war Britain;
* it is a physical manifestation of the University of York Development Plan, which was heralded as the
beginning of contemporary university planning in Britain;
* it continues a historic tradition established by late-C19/early-C20 'red brick' universities of featuring a great hall for special events.

Architectural interest:
* it has an imaginative and bold design with a striking architectural form and massing that is the focus of the most dramatic views across the campus lake;
* it is the university's architectural tour de force and centrepiece building;
* its reinforced concrete construction acts as a foil to the colleges and provides a striking contrast to their CLASP construction;
* it was designed by RMJM, the only architectural practice to design four universities in Britain, with the
notable mid-C20 architects, Stirrat Johnson-Marshall and Andrew Derbyshire as partners in charge;
* it successfully fulfils its design brief of being a multipurpose building with features, such as retractable seating and a removable sectional stage that enable a versatile and flexible space;
* despite some later alteration it retains its overall character, form and key features.

Group value:
* it has strong group value with other listed features on the campus, including Heslington Hall (Grade II*), the numerous Grade II structures in the hall's formal gardens, Derwent College (Grade II), former Langwith College (Grade II), the covered walkway linking the former Langwith College to Central Hall and Vanbrugh College (Grade II), Grade II listed sculptures, and the Grade II registered designed landscape.

NMR Information

Building of 1968. A half-octagon with the canted sides to the lake and the upper storeys cantilevered on that side. Heavy aluminiun roof, the structural members exposed at the apex to form an open turret.

613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey

Related Archives
2K/18026 University of York, Heslington
BF109462 English Architecture: 1945 - 1975 No record of a model release form for DP059189. The file also contains a photographic record of work to modern windows at Brasenose College, Oxford, which was not taken for this project.
EHC01/041 English Architecture: 1945 - 1975 English Heritage photographers from the Cambridge and Swindon offices took photographs of post war buildings at the request of Elain Harwood from Urban Strategies and Listing, for a 2005 publication by Yale University Press.Further photography of post-war buildings took between 2006 and 2011.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

Sources/Archives (1)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (7)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Record last edited

Mar 20 2020 10:25AM


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