Knott is known primarily as the architect who designed County Hall, the seat of government for London. The final design had been the result of a competition, set up when the London County Council (LCC)’s Architects Department and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) could not agree who should be offered the contract. 152 entries later, this prestigious competition was won by 29 year old Ralph Knott, a young architect whose previous experience was largely in the design of country houses. Although his design was not considered the most elegant, it was the only one that satisfied every aspect of the brief. The design was highly praised in The New Age on February 15, 1908. Construction was started in 1911 but the intervention of two world wars prevented its completion until 1958, though the building was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1922.
London’s government, known as the Greater London Council from 1965, was abolished in 1986. After the abolition of the GLC in 1986, the main building was bought up by the private family owned Shirayama Shokusan Corporation for £60 million. Since then, floor space has been gradually apportioned to selected organisations, including The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, Lambeth City Council’s Children’s Education Centre, the 5-star Marriott Hotel and 2-star Travel Inn, FA Premier League Hall of Fame, Namco Entertainment Centre, the aforementioned London Eye, London Aquarium and now the Dalí Universe. For the filming of Shakespeare’s Richard III, County Hall was used for interior scenes supposed to be in the Tower of London.