From the outside, 16 Cook Street is an unremarkable building perhaps. When I was growing up in Liverpool, its doors were shut: an ordinary shop-and-office block. You would never guess what’s inside. More genius by the architect Peter Ellis, in fact.
These days, I am delighted to see, they keep the main door to 16 Cook Street open so you can go in. What’s more, they know they have a Peter Ellis building in plain sight and have put up fancy posters and all, advertising its heritage come-hither.
The star of this 1866 building is its spiral staircase, cantilevered out from the main building and covered with sheets of glass. It’s a typical Peter-Ellis moment of “let in the light”. He did. “You want a staircase? I’ll build you one you never dreamed of.”