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Dramatic entrances

Owners of office space in central London would not employ top architects to carry out major refurbishments on their properties unless they were certain that the expenditure would increase lettability and rental value dramatically.

The refurbishmentof two London properties by Michael Squire and Partners,90 Long Acre and 101 Finsbury Pavement, proves the wisdomof this approach and demonstrates conclusively that good design is directly related to increased value.Before refurbishment it was proving exceedingly difficult to find tenants for both premises.

But the property at 90 Long Acre,for example,was fully let within two months ofpractical completion in autumn last year,at figures ranging from £42 to £47.50 per square foot,providing new benchmark rental levels for the locality.

The projects shared several features:both were fast-track schemes,procured on a twostage tender contract,with similar budgets, Long Acre with a contract value of£5.9 million,Finsbury Pavement £5.8 million.

While financial factors are indicative ofa new appreciation ofgood architecture, design and fit-out resemblances illustrate the features and finishes that now have pulling power in the commercial market place.Foremost among these is the way the entrance is handled:it is no longer sufficient for an office building to have a good address, as both these buildings do - an impressive visible street presence has become as important for a commercial office,whether occupied by single or multiple tenancy,as for a retail outlet.

And 'impressive'now means clear signage and transparency,ideally with a double-height atrium-effect reception;this transparency should continue internally through bright,light-reflecting circulation areas and common parts,particularly WC s, with as much natural daylight introduced as possible.Flexible IT provision is also an essential for offices in the electronic age,as is air-conditioning to ensure summer comfort.

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