Today marks the 20th anniversary of the MEDIA Centre – which despite its short spell at Lord’s in comparison with the Pavilion and the stands at Lord’s, has risen to become one of the ground’s most prominent pieces of architecture.
The idea for the building of the Media Centre came in 1995, soon after Lord’s was chosen to host its fourth men’s World Cup Final.
At a meeting of the MCC Committee in April 1995, the Club decided to build a Media Centre, as it was clear that the existing media facilities, concentrated in the Warner Stand and in the north turret of the Pavilion, were far from adequate to accommodate journalists, photographers and broadcasters.
The choice of a site for the new facilities was simple: the Nursery End was the only place that could provide a view from behind a bowler’s arm without disturbing the Pavilion, but the gap between the Compton and Edrich stands was too small to provide the required facilities, which was also needed to allow access to the playing area for the ground staff and their equipment, as well as allow players to travel to and from the Nursery Ground to the Main Ground.The new design had to be very different from anything currently at the Ground and would need to ‘float’ above the existing stands.
MCC invited companies to tender for the project and at the end of 1995 agreed in principle to adopt Future Systems’ design. The concept involved a ‘pod’ made up of 32 sections individually constructed at the Pendennis shipyard in Cornwall, resting on two reinforced concrete supports.MCC held a press conference at Lord’s in September 1996 to inform the media and public about the project and received a positive response; the conference evoked headlines such as ‘MCC Expected To Beam Up Media To Space Age’ from the Daily Telegraph.
Following approval for the project from MCC Members at a Special General Meeting in December 1996, work began on the construction of the Media Centre in January 1997, when the piles used to support the Media Centre were installed. Then in 1998 the sections of the ‘pod’ were lowered into place during the 1998 cricket season.The structure was built in time for the 1999 ICC World Cup, and was officially opened on 27 April 1999, jointly by MCC President Tony Lewis and NatWest Chairman Sir Donald Rowland, as NatWest were the original sponsors of the Media Centre (the building was later sponsored by Investec and has been sponsored by J.P. Morgan since 2011).
17 days after its official opening, the Media Centre was used for the first time by journalists and broadcasters, when England faced Sri Lanka in the opening match of the 1999 ICC World Cup.The building was widely acclaimed and won no fewer than eight architectural awards, including the RIBA’s most prestigious Sterling Prize for Architecture, as well as receiving favourable press from cricket reporters and architectural correspondents.
Since then, as well as being used regularly for matches, the Media Centre has been used by the band Placebo for a video to accompany their song ‘Special K’ in 2001, and it appeared on the front cover and CD booklet artwork for the Aqualung album ‘Memory Man’ released in 2007.