If you were standing in this exact spot in early 1941, you’d be surrounded by rubble. Large swaths of London lie in ruins after the months-long Blitz during World War II, and Cripplegate ward where we now sit was almost completely destroyed. The only building you’d see standing would be a heavily damaged St. Giles Church.

The government plan for rebuilding London after World War II called for this incredibly valuable land to be filled with office towers to help fill the City of London’s insatiable need for office space. What got built instead was a monument to urbanism and Brutalist architecture housing 2,000 residences, 3 schools, a church, and a performing arts complex.

There’s a lot we can learn about navigating the stakeholders and constraints we face every day from the people who made the Barbican a reality. Let’s dig into the fascinating story of this incredible set of buildings.