History of the Centre
The QEII Centre has been hosting conferences and events for over 34 years since it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 24th June 1986. Designed by the architects Powell, Moya and partners, the Centre was built to meet the demand for a conference centre with the appropriate facilities to host major international government conferences as well as servicing the needs of commercial event organisers.
From its prime location in the heart of Westminster, the Centre has hosted over 13,000 events since 1986. It continues to attract clients from a diverse range of sectors. Our experienced and friendly team are very familiar to our clients with 12 staff having been with the QEII Centre for over 20 years.
The QEII Centre is renowned for being the home of influencers, innovators and pioneers from a range of industries and professionals across the globe. It has hosted key royal, political and sporting events that have shaped history. From the EU Presidency Summit in its first year to the inaugural speech delivered by Boris Johnson as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 2019.
In between times the Centre has played a primary role in a wide variety of events such as the Palestinian Peace Talks, The Tour De France, Lockerbie Bombing press conference as well as Royal weddings and funerals. It has also hosted Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Nelson Mandela, as well as sporting, political and industry leaders from across the globe.
The site the Centre is built on is steeped in history. Originally an island formed by two streams called Thorney Island, it has been home to Kings and Queens and historic figures including Chaucer, Caxton, Pepys, John Milton and Edward Burke. Prior to becoming a conference facility, the Centre had several uses, including a rebuilt infirmary which was on the site from 1832-1950 and as a car park, until construction began in 1982.
Artwork and Facilities
Powell, Moya and partners placed considerable importance on aspects including the need to incorporate artwork into the design, accentuate the views of the building and ensure that the Centre was adaptable to different event requirements. As part of the design, several artworks were commissioned with the focus on British artists of the post-war generation. The most famous of these is a large-scale wooden sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi on the west wall of the Britten. His sculpture contains reference to musical themes in general and the music of Benjamin Britten.
Magnificent views in three directions highlight the historical and architectural quality of the buildings in the surrounding areas such as Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. None more so than on the sixth floor from the Mountbatten lobby, where the panoramic view stretches beyond the Shard and takes in other modern landmarks such as the London Eye.
The facilities were designed to be flexible so that meetings and events could take place for a variety of audience sizes from small gatherings to global events of up to 2,500 attendees. Since its inception the QEII Centre has invested in its facilities and continues to do so. The largest major refurbishment took place in the mid-2010s, where it underwent a four stage, multimillion-pound modernisation programme. This focused on several areas including a comprehensive upgrade of the main entrance, foyer and reception areas, wayfinding and signage to improve the guest experience, replacement of the carpet and furniture as well as new ceilings and lighting.