450,000 sq ft Aldwych Quarter Scheme completes

One of London’s largest refurbishment projects, the 450,000 sq ft (GIA) 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 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 includes 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.

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.

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, Principal Director of John 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.”