At the foot of the stairwell in St Clement’s Building is an architect’s impression of the building painted by R C Cooper-White. LSE Archivist, Sue Donnelly, writes about the background to the painting.
From 1898 one of LSE’s biggest neighbours was the St Clement’s Press located on the corner of Clare Market and Portugal Street. In 1955 the School acquired the lease to the building and when the printing press relocated to Cannon Street plans began to turn the building to School use. The work was overseen by the School’s architect Rupert Charles White-Cooper.
Rupert Charles White-Cooper was a partner in White-Cooper and Turner. Born in 1895 White-Cooper was educated in South Africa and served in the First World War in the Manchester Regiment in France and the Austrian-Italian borders, where he took the opportunity to study the architecture. He was awarded the Military Cross. In the Second World War he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers.
He received a first class BA in Architecture from University College, London in 1921 and was awarded the Donaldson Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. He became a Fellow of RIBA in 1929. Throughout his career White-Cooper taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He was retained as the School’s architect from 1948 to 1966 and during that time was responsible for developments in the Old Building, including the construction of the Senior Common Room, the bridges over Clare Market and Houghton Street (the latter now demolished), Passfield Hall and the conversion of St Clement’s Building to LSE use. He also designed the School war memorial.
The watercolour is undated but probably formed part of the White-Cooper’s work on the conversion of the St Clement’s Building, providing the architect’s impression of the final design. The painting clearly depicts a modernised St Clement’s Building but there are significant differences from the final design. The most obvious is the absence of Harry Warren Wilson’s controversial mosaic and relief depicting the social sciences. White-Cooper was known for his architectural art work and was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.
The painting provides an interesting example of the techniques used by architects when working with clients before the days of computer modelling.
Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)
RIBA Library: Rupert Charles White-Cooper biographical file
Times Obituary 23 December 1970