Wormwood Scrubs prison in Shepherd's Bush has become a listed building.
Victorian jail HMP Wormwood Scrubs, in Du Cane Road, Shepherd's Bush, was built by convicts between 1874 and 1891.
Its chapel and gatehouse have been listed as Grade II* and the cell blocks Grade II.
A spokesman for English Heritage described the prison's design as 'forward thinking' and said: "The prison as a whole is of radical importance in 19th Century prison development.
"The design approach was viewed as progressive in terms of prisoner welfare and prison management, providing workshops, hospital, recreation and spiritual support."
He said that statutory recognition of the importance of HMP Wormwood Scrubs is long overdue.
The prison was the first to use the 'telegraph pole design' - cells are built in parallel rows joined together in the middle with one large corridor.
Previously, many prisons had a 'radial' design - like a spoked wheel with a central hub, such as Pentonville Prison.
HMP Wormwood Scrubs was designed by director of prisons Edward du Cane, the namesake of the road on which the prison lies.
He was chairman of the newly-established Prison Commission and an experienced military engineer, appointed to rationalise the prison system.
The design was probably influenced by hospital plans developed after the Crimean War, and influenced later English as well as French and American prison design.
The jail now houses 1,200 inmates and its famous gatehouse carries the emblems of prison reformer John Howard and Elizabeth Fry, who campaigned for more humane treatment of prisoners.
Women were housed there until female prisons, such as Holloway, were established. From the early 1900s, young offenders were housed in part of the prison which provided education and training. The prison closed briefly from 1940-42 when it became a military site. It was refurbished in the 1990s.
A spokesman for the department of culture, media and sport said: "The Scrubs has been an iconic part of the London landscape for more than a century. Listing will help them remain so for long into the future."