Developer Great Portland Estates was looking to make commercial sense of an imposing but highly cellular Edwardian Building in the Harley Street Conservation Area, retaining the best elements of the original building while providing first class contemporary and flexible space. One of the grandest and largest buildings in the area, due to a load bearing brick structure the building had retained its original cellular residential layout. After investigation in close collaboration with engineers WSP, the potential to provide large flexible, open floor plates proved achievable offering certain advantages over redevelopment: it was quicker to retain rather than rebuild, more cost effective, demolition was reduced resulting in less dust, noise and traffic, and precious building materials remain in service. Originally constructed as a residential mansion block, the refurbishment involved a delicate removal of abundant load bearing masonry partitions and spine walls, while retaining the external envelope and existing floor slabs, minimizing waste and new materials used.
Every floor is now completely open plan, and can be sub-divided and cellularised in many ways to suit occupiers’ requirements. Three new cores provide modern lifts, WCs, services and fire escapes replacing two arcane vertical circulation cores, three external escape cores and on floor WCs. The office accommodation now has raised access floors throughout. The new main entrance is on Great Portland Street between sitting tenants Lloyds Bank and Villandry, with a secondary entrance to the other side of the building. It is striking and highly visible thanks to its use of lighting and hand-beaten stainless steel. Sensitive architectural intervention and the discreet integration of ingenious structure and services solutions improved the occupational efficiency by 35%. The old light wells, buried deep in the building, now flood daylight across the floor plates.
This project has been widely recognised as a benchmark in sensitive refurbishment and won a number of awards. It sits next to 160 Great Portland Street, also refurbished by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.