Gillette building, Brentford

The Gillette building was a factory and UK headquarters of the Gillette Company (now part of the Procter & Gamble corporation). The Grade II listed Art Deco building is located on “Gillette Corner” at the junction of the Great West Road and Syon Lane. Designed by Sir Banister Fletcher, Jr., it opened early in 1937. The cast iron lanterns now flanking the main entrance are re-purposed Victorian gas lamps that were converted to electricity and set up on stone plinths.

Sir Banister Fletcher, Jr. and his father Banister Fletcher, Snr. are best known for the textbook A History of Architecture,which remains in print to this day as Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture and is now in its twenty-first edition.

The Gillette factory closed in 2006 when production moved to Poland. The closure of the Brentford site and Gillette’s warehouse and distribution facility at Hemel Hempstead, Herts, cost 450 jobs.

There have been various proposals to redevelop the Brentford site. To date the site has changed hands twice since the closure. Plans for a hotel and business park failed to go ahead after the 2008 financial crisis. The current owners, Gillette Corner Holdings (unconnected to the Gillette Company), acquired the site for £23 million in 2013.

Chrysler Building, New York

Completed in May 1931, the 318.9 m (1,046 ft) Chrysler Building held the title of the tallest building in the world for just under a year before being surpassed by the 380 m (1,250 ft) Empire State Building. Architecturally, however, its Art Deco style makes its taller companion look plain in comparison. Although it served as the corporate headquarters of the car manufacturer until the 1950s, it was built and owned by the company’s founder, Walter Chrysler. Ownership passed to Chrysler’s family after his death in 1940, and the building was sold on in 1953. It has since changed hands on a number of occasions.

Hoover Building, Perivale

Constructed between 1932 and 1938, the Hoover Building and its accompanying canteen block are among the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Britain or indeed anywhere in the world. The site remained in use until the 1980s, whenn Hoover began to gradually relocate their operations to Cambuslang, near Glasgow. The building fell gradually into disrepair but happily avoided the fate of the nearby Firestone Building and was granted Grade II* Listed status. In 1989 the site was aquired by Tesco and was converted to a supermarket, which opened in 1992. The often-maligned high street giant worked closely with English Heritage during the project, to very good effect.

© Christopher Seddon 2008