Geoffrey Reid Associates has turned its own offices into a shop window for the practice's marriage of sustainability and splendour
If a client asks Geoffrey Reid Associates to take them round a sustainable building the practice has recently designed, the architect can simply show them its own London office.

Geoffrey Reid Associates' London headquarters is quite an advertisement for the firm. It shows how a lacklustre 1950s office block can be given a contemporary twist by addressing both aesthetics and sustainability to create an exciting and comfortable environment for staff.

Work on the conversion finished last month, and comprises a top floor of conference rooms and three floors of work areas and breakout spaces. But the focal point is a five-storey entrance, including a translucent clad lift shaft, within which an illuminated car will glide up and down. At night this shaft will be lit from within so that it glows electric blue.

As visitors enter, they will encounter a virtual receptionist – projected onto a large plasma screen – on the ground floor, who will instruct them to take the lift. Upon arrival on the top floor, they will pass through a gallery showing artwork and concept schemes before they reach the reception desk.

Sustainability was an important part of the conversion – the practice is receiving an increasing number of tenders asking for proof of the firm's green credentials – so the office will be naturally ventilated for most of the year, with openable windows that will allow occupants to control their own working environment. On hot summer days, the windows will remain closed and chilled beams will ensure the environment remains comfortable. External blinds, activated by sensors, provide additional solar control.

And just to ensure the occupants understand the sustainability issues, all staff members have had training sessions on how to use their building.