BT Group will take years to vacate iconic London landmark, which will be open to the public once work is complete

Heatherwick Studio will work with the new American owner of the BT Tower to transform it into a hotel. 

The BT Group announced today that it was selling the iconic communications structure in central London to MCR Hotels, the third largest hotel owner-operator in the US for £275m. 


Source: Shutterstock

The BT Tower’s use for telecoms has been declining. Its microwave aerials were removed almost a decade ago.

Opened in 1965 by then-prime minister Harold Wilson, the tower has become a landmark on the capital’s skyline and is now grade II listed. 

At 177m, it was the tallest building in London when it opened and was not surpassed until 1980 when the NatWest Tower was built. 

Since 1984, it has been operated by the BT Group and its famous “infoband” screen is often used to display messages to Londoners.  

But an increasing number of network operations once provided using the structure are now delivered by BT’s fixed and mobile networks, reducing its usefulness as a communications facility. 

The group will take several years to vacate the premises, due to the scale and complexity of the work to move technical equipment, giving its new owner ample time to develop proposals. 

Its conversion into a hotel will see the tower once again made open to the public, which it had been until 1971 with a restaurant on the revolving top floor. 

Thomas Heatherwick said his team were “thrilled” to be able to “reimagine the BT Tower” with MCR. 

“This is an extraordinary building and an amazing opportunity to bring it back to life,” he said.  

>> Why have buildings become so boring? Thomas Heatherwick launches his campaign for change 

Tyler Morse, chief executive and owner of MCR, said: “We are proud to become owners and custodians of the iconic BT Tower.  

“We will take our time to carefully develop proposals that respect the London landmark’s rich history and open the building for everyone to enjoy.” 

MCR owns and operates several of New York’s most famous hotels, including the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport, a redevelopment of Eero Saarinen’s 1962 Flight Center, which received a national Architecture Award from the American Institute of Architects.  

“We see many parallels between the TWA Hotel and the BT Tower,” said Morse.  

“Both are world-renowned, groundbreaking pieces of architecture. It’s been a privilege to adapt the TWA Flight Center into new use for future generations, as it will be the BT Tower.”