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LSE’s Centre Building – Tod Hanson Commission

CAS Consultancy has delivered a new mural by Tod Hanson for the London School of Economics and Political Science as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations. The work has been commissioned in response to the School’s new Centre Building, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.

Sited at the heart of the LSE campus on Houghton Street and Clare Market, Spectra is the first of a series of wall-based works that reflect the School’s position both as a globally respected academic institution and as a fixture of London’s architectural landscape.

Charles Booth’s Victorian Poverty Map is the starting point for the mural. Part of LSE Library’s archive, the map has been inscribed into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The section of map the artwork focuses on is the area the School occupies: Lincoln’s Inn Fields appears at the top and the organic arc of the Thames features below. In an approximation of a centre point, a red square denotes LSE Square, where we are now.

Superimposed on the Booth map (which has had names and colours removed in a deliberate artistic abstraction) is the familiar form of the pie chart, suggesting an ‘infographic’ format we regularly use to assess the world we inhabit. The artwork’s elliptical form is distorted through the artist’s use of trompe l’oeil – from certain vantage points the disc appears to be three-dimensional, sinking into or rising from the building wall.

This commission is the latest in a long-standing relationship with LSE that started in 2006, when CAS Consultancy commissioned Richard Wilson and Joy Gerrard’s sculptures for the LSE’s New Academic Building and continued with Mark Wallinger’s The World Turned Upside Down for the School’s new Student Centre in 2019.