The Guildhall School of Music & Drama started life in 1880 as the Guildhall School of Music, operating out of a disused warehouse. (Drumming lessons were given in the coal cellar.) It was expanded to include drama in 1935.
In 1977 the Guildhall School of Music and Drama moved to its present school in the Barbican complex, between the Barbican Arts Centre and Speed House. The school was built in 1977. It contains a theatre and concert hall for use by the students.
On two sides, there are three storeys of small practice studios, projecting over an opened colonnade towards the lake. Each studio is separately formed as a red brick box with angled corner windows.
Barrel vaulted canopies over the library interrupt the roofline, matching those of the surrounding blocks. In the larger windows, there are abstract stained glass friezes by Celia Frank.
The City Corporation negotiated with the Heron Group to build a huge new concert and theatre as part of The Heron building on Fore Street, which has considerably expanded the capabilities of the school. This occupies the lower levels.