Liverpool was slow to recover after the war and as so avoided many of the errors inflicted on some other bomb damaged English cities. Fine old buildings that might have been demolished were preserved although some war-damaged buildings, such as the Custom House in Canning Place, which could have been repaired, were demolished.
Liverpool did have its own bold redevelopment and rebuilding plan, which would have radically altered the city, but this was never put into operation.
The post-war period was a time when architects were experimenting with new materials and new methods of construction. During the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s there was a need for a large number of new buildings and architects made great efforts to reduce the price of their product to help meet this demand. The new materials were often being produced without sufficient testing and used by builders who lacked the experience in working with them. Too much was asked for too quickly and too cheaply and, and as we can see in Liverpool, many poor quality buildings were some of which are now being demolished and redeveloped. Nevertheless there were some successes.
The University of Liverpool was at the forefront of modern architectural development in the city from the 1960s. It was expanding and commissioned a number of well-known national architects to build a large precinct. This led to a variety of designs, which, while not always successful, were offer an often lively and stimulating environment of many different shapes. This building programme was mainly complete by the 1980s and two its best buildings are the Wyncote Sports Pavilion (Gerald Beech, 1961 – 62, Mather Avenue), one of the best examples of the modern style in the 1960s and the Electrical Engineering Building (Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall 1963 – 66, Ashton Street, Brownlow Hill) which is clad in white tiles and forms a bold and uncompromising statement reflecting the spirit of the age.
Another building of the 1960s that deserves particular attention is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (1962 – 67, Mount Pleasant/Browlow Hill) designed by Frederick Gibbard and built of the crypt of Edwin Lutyens’ vast and uncompleted design of the 1930s. The cathedral, affectionately known as ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’, has proved to be a striking and popular addition to the city’s skyline.
Higher education is now a major factor in Liverpool’s economy and the new Liverpoo1 John Moores University has had a large programme of building development and refurbishment across the city. The Aldham Robard’s Learning Resource Centre (1994, Maryland Street) is probably its best recent building.
The other great stimulus to Liverpool’s architectural development was the riots of 1981. It decided to redevelop the remains of the South Docks which, although no longer used by shipping, contained fine industrial buildings. The Albert Dock Warehouses, the largest Grade 1 group of listed buildings in the country had been under threat but the Development Corporation was able to step in and restore it. Part was converted the Tate Gallery of Liverpool (1988, James Stirling), part into the Maritime Museum and the remainder into shops, restaurants, pubs, flats and offices. The whole has become a major tourist attraction.