It’s a privilege to work on historically sensitive refurbishments and it takes the very best talent in our industry to do it well
One of London’s largest refurbishment projects, the 450,000ft2 (GIA) Aldwych Quarter scheme, which encompasses Bush House - the grade II listed former home of the BBC World Service - was recently completed by JLL along with John Robinson Architects and main contractor ISG.
The project was completed in just 77 weeks - a significant achievement for the delivery team given the scope and scale of the refurbishment project, which now provides contemporary office accommodation poised and ready for occupation.
JLL’s objective was to revitalise these landmark buildings, preserving the historical context and delivering (majority) BREEAM Excellent Grade A office space. The most famous and iconic of the four buildings, Bush House, echoes remnants of its past life with communication boxes intact and the distinctive words “Dedicated to the Friendship of the English-speaking Peoples” still visible over the Bush House entrance.
I believe it is important that we continue to see the work of our forefathers across the country through historically sensitive refurbishment which adds unique character and flavour to our urban landscape
Property is a passion for those of us with a career in construction, but as much as we take pleasure in engineering a dynamic and changing skyline, the opportunity to work with our cultural history on projects such as Bush House gives the greatest professional thrill of all.
I was lucky from the outset of my career to work on three of the London Livery Halls – both grade I listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument; but early 20th century buildings have their own distinct character. Another pleasure of working on Bush House has been looking at old photographs which document the original construction. Although not quite Lewis Hine’s Empire State Building images of workers enjoying a break at 1,000ft; the black and white images of the original development are in their own way a fantastic document of old construction processes, techniques and even old PPE clothing.
Functional and economic obsolescence will continue to be more of an issue than the deterioration of the building fabric. I believe it is important that we continue to see the work of our forefathers across the country through historically sensitive refurbishment which adds unique character and flavour to our urban landscape. The demand for changing working environments and building use creates a wonderful opportunity for the skills of the project and construction team to be stretched, tested realised and documented. This creates and contributes to our own legacy.
Helen Gough is head of JLL’s Buildings & Construction team