In February 2014, Leslie Green celebrated his 139th birthday. In the 106 years since his untimely death, Leslie has overseen the development of a number of designs, beginning with the posthumous mentorship of his former assistant Stanley Heaps who was tasked with seeing Leslie’s original commission through. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Leslie had a difficult relationship with tube station architect Charles Holden. The two men fell out time and time again, not least due to Charles’s radical changes to Leslie’s Archway station. Leslie also begrudged Charles being considered the London Underground architect’s architect.
We had just begun working on the St James’s Market commission when Leslie approached us, explaining that the Pall Mall Safe Deposite site had great sentimental value for him as one of the last buildings he worked on with his father, and that he would be delighted to offer his guidance.
Leslie approved of our idea of creating an homage to the two safe deposits of the area, but suggested that we – as he had – consider creating a cabinet layout suitably non-factory like and befitting the area, despite containing a relatively gridded programme of safes. He explained to us how the view of the building from Regents Street St James’s (formerly known as Lower Regent Street) was critical and mentioned his irk that the architect of St Albans House refused to take his advice on this.
Leslie engaged us in a scintillating conversation about our approach to extending the plinth and creating a jewellery box like interior to draw the eye from Regent’s Street St James’s. In his designs for the tube stations, Leslie had always considered that the buildings would become the bases for future developments.
He also applauds our suggestion that we allow for the craftspeople that work with us to be given some free reign to add certain details, perhaps because this rings true with details such as the cricket bats and wicket at Leicester Square station.