Royal Liver Building
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Royal Liver Building
Interior of western clock tower with projection
Image: May 21, 2019
Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 1HU, UK
Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom
Latitude: 53.406 N
Longitude: 2.996 W
Early twentieth-century skyscraper; eclectic
Height: 98.2 m (322 ft)
The interior of the western clock tower has been converted into an immersive audio-visual experience as part of the "RLB360" experience, a public tour now allowed under the new ownership of the building.
Commentary: The idea for the Royal Liver Building (RLB) and its namesake derives from the Liverpool Liver Burial Society, a mutual aid society comprised of local working men that provided for the funeral costs of its members. Situated on Liverpool’s Pier Head, the Royal Liver Building is part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City (inscribed 2004). Alongside the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, the RLB is know as one of Liverpool’s iconic “Three Graces.” The building’s architect, Walter Aubrey Thomas, found inspiration in the early skyscrapers of the United States, particularly in the Ingalls Building in Cincinnati, Ohio. Stylistically eclectic, Thomas’s design combines stripped-down classicizing and castellated elements. The building’s early use of reinforced concrete is also notable, and the RLB stood as the tallest tower in the UK from 1911 to 1961. The RLB is also well known for its twin “Liver Bird” sculptures that adorn the twin cupolas of the building’s roof. The two giraffe-sized, mythological birds were the work of Carl Bernard Bartels, a German immigrant who was interned and repatriated to Germany during WWI. Bartels’ contribution went unrecognized for many years. For the first time in the structure’s history, it was sold in 2016, to a Luxembourg-based investment group. Under this new ownership, the building has been opened up as a tourist attraction as of 2019 and tours are now available of select interiors and one of the clock towers. Correspondingly, Liverpool’s docklands, depressed since the rise of containerization and modernized shipping methods in the 1960s and 1970s, have also recently seen an economic resurgence and widespread redevelopment.
Contributor: Sarah Rovang
Information: “History,” Royal Liver Building 360, accessed August 8, 2019, https://rlb360.com/history/ and on-site signage.
Photographer: Sarah Rovang
Sarah Rovang, 2019
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