One of London’s largest refurbishment projects, the 450,000 sq ft Aldwych Quarter scheme, which encompasses Bush House – the Grade II listed former home of the BBC World Service – and three adjoining buildings on the Northbank in London has been successfully completed by JLL, ISG and John Robertson Architects.
With 300,000 sq ft of lettable high-specification Cat A office accommodation across four buildings, Aldwych Quarter provides highly flexible, modern office accommodation in a key strategic central London location.
The scheme included the sensitive conservation, cleaning and restoration of the buildings’ façades and roof structures. Rooftop terraces have been created for tenants at the north and south ends of Bush House, providing views along Kingsway to the north and a spectacular panorama across the City, South Bank and Westminster from the south.
Completed at a cost of £10 million, Bush House was proclaimed as the most expensive building in the world when it opened its doors in 1923. Together with the other three buildings in the Aldwych Quarter, it was commissioned by American Financier Irving T Bush and built to designs by American Architect Harvey Corbett.
Behind their classical facade the buildings were built using the latest thinking and Bush House was one of the first multi-storey buildings in London to follow American commercial practice in having entirely uniform fenestration across its upper storeys, reflecting the standard ceiling heights internally.
Working in collaboration, development manager JLL, main contractor ISG and John Robertson Architects have successfully translated the vision of Japanese owner Kato Kagaku Co. Ltd to revitalise these landmark buildings, preserving the historical context and delivering majority BREEAM Excellent Grade A office space.
The project was completed in just 77 weeks – a significant achievement for the delivery team given the scope and scale of the Aldwych Quarter refurbishment project . Overlapping programmes enabled the delivery team to gain early access to the buildings, undertaking vital design validation. This method was adopted as part of an all-encompassing risk management strategy, which reduced the project duration by a year.
In addition to an accelerated delivery timeframe, the Aldwych Quarter project included the challenge of undertaking significant structural alterations to remodel and reconfigure accommodation, while working within historically sensitive environments across the four individual buildings – Bush House, Strand House, King House and Melbourne House.
Over 100 tonnes of structural steelwork were inserted into Strand House alone to infill an obsolete triangular lightwell and to rationalise the layout of the core and the office floorplate. Within Melbourne House, the team reconfigured the orientation of the reception area through the installation of a new lift core, stairs and toilets.
New mansard roofs in natural slate dramatically improve the appearance of the roofline across Aldwych Quarter, wrapping the upgraded building services in a uniform enclosure.
Over 1.5 million man hours were worked on site without a reportable accident and at peak periods up to 1,000 operatives from 53 trade contractors worked alongside one another to deliver this impressive project.
John Robertson, Principal Director of Robertson Architects said:
“Our commission has been to restore the grandeur and dignity of Aldwych quarter and recapture some of the enterprising spirit that saw Aldwych and the broad boulevard of Kingsway raised at the beginning of the 20th century. The raw materials were all there – the buildings are sumptuous with travertine walled, coffered ceilinged lobbies and a wealth of period detailing that has been restored in the largest refurbishment project in central London.
“We’ve reinstated the original open plan of the office floors and brought the standard of accommodation up to contemporary expectations, creating Grade A office accommodation and achieving BREEAM Excellent in three out of four buildings.
“Aldwych is uniquely positioned between the commerce of the city, the established culture and entertainment of Covent Garden and the emerging dynamism of Midtown. Our newly completed refurbishment will become an economic anchor for the area, providing occupiers with market-leading accommodation and facilities while celebrating the valuable and unique heritage of the buildings.”
Andrew Williams, Director in JLL’s Project Management team who managed the scheme from inception to completion, said:
“The Aldwych Quarter scheme represents a fine example of innovative refurbishment to generate new life and build a strong future into what had been a declining asset.
“JLL along with ISG and John Robertson Architects have worked hard to deliver a giant, integrated solution to an outstanding standard for our client, Kato Kagaku Co Ltd and they are delighted with the results.”
Matt Blowers, Managing Director of ISG’s UK Fit Out business, commented:
“The successful completion of the Aldwych Quarter scheme is testament to the spirit of collaboration that has existed from the very outset. The innovative way the project team tackled the technical and logistical complexities of delivering a scheme of this scale and historical sensitivity has produced a highly beneficial outcome for early occupation of these keynote buildings.”
John Robertson of Robertson Architects said:
“Aldwych Quarter is a survivor from an age of grandeur and dignity – Bush House was the most expensive building in the world when it opened as a centre for transatlantic trade in the 1920s. Our refurbishment restores this unique heritage and has created a high quality office space ready for the demands of 21st Century occupiers.
“Aldwych is ideally positioned between the City and the West End. The established cultural, retail and entertainment attractions of Covent Garden and the South Bank are on its doorstep, as is the emerging dynamism of Midtown and Northbank. Our newly completed refurbishment will become an economic anchor for the area, providing occupiers with market-leading accommodation and facilities in this prime central location.”
Sarah Shell, Director, Office Agency at JLL said:
“The location and its surrounding amenities combined with the Category A office specification makes Aldwych Quarter a truly unique proposition in the Midtown area.
“The mix of good transport links and proximity to the City and West End will be attractive to occupiers and to this end interest from prospective occupiers across all sectors has been high.”
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialised real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual fee revenue of $4.0 billion and gross revenue of $4.5 billion, JLL has more than 200 corporate offices, operates in 75 countries and has a global workforce of approximately 53,000.
ISG Plc is an international construction services company delivering fit out, construction, engineering services and specialist solutions, operating in 28 countries worldwide. The company works with owners, developers and occupiers in the public and private sector for an extensive range of industries. ISG Plc was established in 1989 and has been quoted on AIM since 1998. Today the company has a turnover of around £1.5 billion.
John Robertson Architects has designed and delivered a significant number of high quality buildings in central London. Led by John Robertson and fellow directors Derek Davis, Festus Moffat, Smita Bhat and David Magyar, the practice has wide ranging project experience, from masterplanning to conceptual and detailed design, spanning the commercial, institutional and residential sectors.
MECE Designed, installed and commissioned a comprehensive Fire and Security Package to NSI Gold and LPS 1014 standards on the Bush House project. Commendations came from LPS 1014 and NSI Gold for the standard of design and installations by MECE, including the State of the Art Siemens technology MM8000 Graphical front end.
After many meetings and discussions with ISG and SRW it was agreed that the Siemens Fire and Security package was best suited for this market place, for full Integration between both intelligent systems. This was defined by its second to none technology and future expansions to come once the tenants start to occupy this Iconic Building. MECE now service and maintain all the systems within the building.
Martin McGrath of MECE, said:
“It was important for MECE To win this project as MECE service and maintain many iconic buildings in the South of England & London and Bush House is one of the most iconic buildings for British Architecture in the UK of the 20th Century. This Old BBC Headquarters is world renowned for its Art Deco architecture and it was a serious challenge to hide cabling and devices in this listed building, but still keeping the overall design to meet LPS 1014 and NSI Gold standards.”
MECE had consultations to pre fabricate areas so that as little or no disruption would be experienced during the commissioning and final finish stages of the project.
“We do strongly feel that with the help, cooperation and teamwork ethic of ISG and MECE, we all achieved a building with a state of the art fire and security system that will be in working order for many years to come and to be proud of.”