London Business School, The Sammy Ofer Centre, NW1 London, UK
The brief was to transform the iconic Old Marylebone Town Hall into a major new facility for the London Business School. The project includes the refurbishment of Old Marylebone Town Hall’s Council House and Annexe buildings, using the excavated space between these to create a bold new glass and steel entrance and link structure.
Architecturally, the building needed to broadcast the ambition of the client and have a strong urban presence along Marylebone Road. Whilst the majority of the building is dedicated to education – with the facility including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and a student lounge – the project also needed to accommodate civic and political uses.
The glazed link structure creates a centrepiece for the design, forming a new distinct entrance to London Business School, giving sole use of the civic steps to the Council House to the Westminster Register Office.
The other major architectural addition is a new lecture theatre block to the rear of the building, which replaces a 1960s infill. Six lecture theatres have been added, with the largest two conjoining to create a space with the capacity of 200 people; this is used as the Council Chamber for Westminster’s monthly meeting. Externally, the design of the lecture block is characterised by a daring limestone curtain walling which projects out into the mews.
- 12,000 m2
Like most ambitious projects in Central London, the story of the redevelopment of the London Business School’s campus is a combination of creativity and stamina.
Sheppard Robson began working with London Business School in 2006 to redevelop their Regent’s Park site at Sussex Place. This project ultimately led to the design of a satellite teaching centre at the Sammy Ofer Centre in 2012, set in the Old Marylebone Town Hall recently vacated by Westminster City Council. The bustling Marylebone Road site offered something different to the calm cloisters of Sussex Place and afforded the opportunity to broadcast the quality and ambition of the organisation, whilst breathing new life into an iconic London building that was in a tired state (before picture below).
In order to maintain the clear ‘gap’ between the two buildings it was determined that the new glass and steel link should be supported off the existing structure. Initial analysis determined that although the period buildings shared a classical appearance they are structurally misaligned. To resolve this a simple diagrid connecting each pier was established to inform the structural layout, which has resulted in an extremely efficient, yet bold design.
Whilst new architecture marks the arrival of a major new educational facility, the design also successfully negotiates the terms of the lease agreement between the School and Westminster City Council. This specified that the Westminster Registrar’s Office would be retained so that marriages will continue to take place in the iconic building and also the Council would be able to use the largest lecture theatre to hold their monthly public meeting.
A key part of the revival of the building has been the restoration of the stone façades. As the buildings are constructed differently (the Town Hall in load bearing masonry, the Annexe as a clad steel frame) they have each raised distinctive challenges. The team
has successfully worked with stone specialists to address cleaning, repair, and replacement of damaged areas of the Portland stone elevations.