Richard Rogers Partnership has given Lloyd's Register of Shipping a distinctive new headquarters which acknowledges the organisation's City of London roots Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Richard Rogers won his sensational victory in the competition for the new Lloyd's of London building.
From the upper reaches of the new Lloyd's Register of Shipping there are fine views of the iconic building which, along with Norman Foster's Hongkong & Shanghai Bank, made High-Tech (as it used to be called) acceptable in big business circles and revolutionised the culture of one of the City of London's most venerable institutions.
Lloyd's Register is an equally venerable City institution, with common roots in the coffee house that Edward Lloyd established in Tower Street circa 1689, and in London's maritime trade - but with a separate identity extending back to the 1770s.
Lloyd's Register moved to Fenchurch Street at the end of the 19th century, appointing T E Collcutt to design its palatial headquarters. The building, completed in 1901 in 'Arts and Crafts Baroque' style, incorporated work by some of the best decorative artists of the period - sculpture by George Frampton, Frank Jenkins and Henry Pegram, tiles by de Morgan and painting by Gerald Moira and Frank Brangwyn, with metalwork and joinery of the highest quality. Lloyd's Avenue was laid out as part of the new development, in what had been a fringe area of the City. The formal rooms of Collcutt's building (listed Grade II*) are among the finest interiors in the Square Mile.
The Register subsequently expanded into adjoining buildings, including Coronation House on Lloyd's Avenue. In the 1920s, it acquired (and demolished) the closed church of St Katherine Coleman, replacing it with Haddon House, a steel-framed Classical block by Collcutt's successor, Stanley Hamp - the churchyard was retained as an open space. In the early 1970s, the site was substantially reconstructed, with new cores and more open-plan office accommodation.
By the mid 1980s, however, Lloyd's Register, with a staff of 1,300, was again hungry for space. The mood in the City had changed markedly since Rogers' Lloyd's of London was given the go-ahead - it seemed highly unlikely that a major redevelopment of the Fenchurch Street site (now part of a conservation area) would be permitted.
Lloyd's Register began to think the unthinkable - of moving out of the City. In 1993, Richard Rogers Partnership (RRP) was commissioned to prepare a scheme for a new headquarters on a green belt site, formerly a hospital, at Liphook, Hampshire.
With office pavilions sunk into the landscape, earth roofs, timber and terracotta cladding, and natural ventilation, the Liphook project reflected an increasing interest in environmental issues at RRP - but it was abandoned after local objections.
Lloyd's Register would remain in the City, but, as the Corporation now conceded, at a price. The brief to RRP, retained for the City development, was to provide a net area of at least 24,000m on three sides, Fenchurch Street station on the fourth - with a net-to-gross ratio of a minimum 70 per cent. The plot ratios achieved, more than 8:1 overall and 11:1 in respect of the new buildings, are exceptional.
After tough negotiations, Lloyd's was given consent to demolish most of the existing buildings (excluding the Collcutt block but including Haddon House). The stone facade of Coronation House on Lloyd's Avenue had to be retained. The key to realising the client brief was an acceptance by the planners that the new buildings would be significantly taller than anything in the vicinity. Though Lloyd's Register saw itself as rooted to Fenchurch Street for the next century, it wanted a development that could respond to vagaries in the market - potential for sub-letting was vital. (About 50 per cent of the space has, in the event, been sub-let. ) For Graham Stirk, the RRP director who led the project, the commercial agenda fused with other concerns, notably a progressive environmental strategy which, in terms of reduced running costs, had obvious attractions for the client.
In place of the incoherent jumble of interconnected spaces, the Rogers scheme provided three distinct wedges of accommodation, set on a fan-shaped grid to the southeast of the former churchyard and linked by lightweight glazed atria. Most of the space is in two towers - or rather, tall slabs, with slender, gently tapering 10m floors - of 11 and 14 storeys respectively. A further seven storeys are housed behind the retained facade of Coronation House.
Finally, a five-storey block bridges the narrow, picturesque St Katherine's Row to address Fenchurch Place on the west - the only point where the development breaks through onto the City's streets. Black Sea and Baltic House, a dull 1920s block on the corner of Fenchurch Place and Fenchurch Street, was never owned by Lloyd's.
For RRP, as for so many other practices, 'green' architecture has long been more of an aspiration than a reality. At 88 Wood Street, another recent RRP City project led by Stirk (AJ 13.1.00), the servicing was essentially conservative, with the developer insisting on air-conditioned space. But Wood Street was speculative, Lloyd's a more bespoke scheme where the client was supportive of the stated aim to reduce energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions by up to a third in comparison with an air-conditioned building.
The services strategy (by Arup) dovetailed with the structural programme developed by Tony Hunt (a collaborator with Rogers since Team 4 days).
The finely crafted, largely pre-cast concrete frame, incorporating K-bracing for stability, is beautiful in itself, with a sparkling mix containing white limestone, but is equally fundamental, in terms of its thermal mass, to the energy equation of the scheme. A displacement ventilation system introduces slightly chilled air at low velocity into the office spaces at floor level. The chilled beams cool used air and neatly incorporate sprinklers, lighting and PA systems - they give a strong character to the workspaces, dispelling the depressing blandness induced by suspended ceilings.
But it is the basic diagram that is most obviously an energy-saver. The atria act as climatic buffers, mediating between the external and internal climate - these atria are naturally ventilated, with top vents that can be opened in hot weather. The narrow slabs of office space make optimum use of daylight and views - low-energy lighting switches off automatically in unoccupied spaces.
High-performance double-glazing cuts solar gain - further controlled by external louvres that shade the east and west facades in strong sunlight. For 90 per cent of the time, the architects report, the louvres remain open - London is a grey city - but their perforations allow views out even when they are shut. Yellow blinds in the roofs and on the southern elevation are also operated by rooftop photo cells.
'Served and servant spaces' have been a key theme in Rogers' buildings since the young architect discovered the work of Louis Kahn in the early 1960s. They define the architecture of Lloyd's of London, a building which RRP originally wanted to construct in steel. Equally fundamental to Rogers' work is an explicit delight in movement (something which goes back to his youthful enthusiasm for Sant'Elia). At Lloyd's, movement is celebrated in the astonishingly lightweight steel and glass towers, containing stairs and lift cores, which are attached to the concrete frame at the front of the building. (Further service cores are attached to the rear, where they are buried from view. ) Topped by lift motorrooms - remarkably elegant objects in their own right - these elements reflect the intense energy and attention to detail the project received from Stirk and his team: the detailing of the stairs, with pre-cast concrete treads on a steel framework, is strikingly daring. The all-glass lift cars offer a ride more spectacular (and, for some, scary) than that available at Lloyd's of London or Channel 4.
All this contributes to the extraordinary transparency of the development. Yet Lloyd's Register of Shipping is far from colourless: colour (blue for the main structure, yellow for stairs, red for lifts) is used to counterpoise the clear glazing.
Encountering the building at close range from the former churchyard (which has been attractively and unfussily landscaped) is one of the most remarkable experiences offered by recent City architecture. The original intention was to demolish the unlisted (and quite mediocre) building, which sits on Fenchurch Street, between the Collcutt building and the listed East India Arms pub, and erect a glazed entrance pavilion containing a museum of Lloyd's history, which could also display some of the material unearthed during archaeological excavations of the site. The City, however, refused consent for demolition, and Lloyd's was forced to retain a building for which it has no use other than storage. Richard Rogers found the ruling inexplicable and one sees his point, yet the contrast between the variegated, familiar streetscape and the sheer dynamism of the new building behind is heightened as a consequence.
There are other points where the interface between new and old is not altogether resolved. On the eastern flank of the building, for example, floorplates extend through to the retained facade of Coronation House, with refurbished sash windows. On the upper floors of this block, set-backs produce awkwardly narrow floor plates. It would surely have been better to have challenged the architect to produce new elevations worthy of the conservation area, possibly with a strong masonry ingredient, and allow Coronation House to be demolished rather than insist on this poor compromise.
The restoration of the Collcutt headquarters building, supervised by RRP using specialist contractors, is, by contrast, a triumph. A number of features previously concealed have been revealed and others, such as the splendid light fittings, cleaned and repaired. The chairman's office remains in this building, with the formal rooms heavily used for entertaining and conferencing.
Upper floors, where there were no distinctive features, have been reconfigured as openplan office space. A service core has been tacked on to the listed building, containing plant rooms, lifts, a staircase and WCs. The restored building is connected to the new development by a link gallery, replacing office space, with a stepped ramp resolving the change in levels. A conference suite has been built at basement level.
Architectural practices never grow old - they simply mature. Richard Rogers has been in practice for nearly 40 years, yet the energy, clarity and integrity of this project reflects the degree to which his time-tested team (Young, Goldschmied, Davies and Abbott) has been reinforced by younger talents who will hopefully build on his achievements in decades to come.
One recognises that the City had doubts about the increased density on this site - just to the west, for example, a new 'mid-rise' building by John McAslan cashes in on the relaxation of height controls secured by Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Yet it is bizarre that the one of the best City buildings of recent years is so carefully shielded from view when so much that is mediocre is still allowed to flaunt itself.
For all its 'green' credentials - and they are genuine enough - Rogers' Lloyd's Register of Shipping has nothing of the hair-shirt about it. It is a building which rewards the passer-by curious enough to walk through the narrow gateway from Fenchurch Street and provides pleasant daylit working spaces - with views - for a large number of people. It represents a new advance in the Rogers campaign to reconcile high ideals with the pragmatic realities of the commercial world.
Services At Lloyd's Register of Shipping, the selection of external shading and a highperformance facade limit solar gains while allowing generous natural light and views.
The external motorised shades are positioned automatically to keep the glass in shade from direct sun but open in overcast conditions to maintain high levels of natural light.The lower solar gains allow the use of economic and low-energy floor void supply and passive chilled beams.
The exposed structure provides thermal mass which allows nocturnal pre-cooling and effectively reduces the peak heat gains to the office space. A generous raised floor zone is used efficiently for a combination of supply and extract air routing, heating, IT and electrical services distribution.
The high-level combined services beam integrates all the functions of a conventional suspended ceiling and building services into one compact unit, achieving an increased effective floor to ceiling height. Arup and Richard Rogers Partnership collaborated closely on the design of the chilled beams and continued working closely with the manufacturer (Trox) to achieve an innovative product that has been marketed further and has been the basis for further product development.
This close co-ordination was equally applied to the office structure and services design to provide an elegant, unobtrusive high-level solution (see office section diagrams).
The design of the air-conditioning system allows free cooling to be obtained for significant parts of the year. The airhandling plant has an enhanced fresh air capacity and supplies at 18infinityC, allowing cooling without the use of the chillers when the outside air temperature is below this temperature. The configuration of the chilled water system and cooling towers also make use of the free cooling that is available at lower external temperatures.
External wall climbing lifts provide a dramatic entrance to the building.Two of these lifts give access for fire fighting in emergency conditions.
Overall, Arup has had good reports on the performance of the building - the occupants seem to like it. On one particularly hot summer's day - 5infinityC hotter than the external design temperature - there were no complaints of discomfort.
Structure The congested site between Fenchurch Street and Lloyd's Avenue posed major difficulties in both the design and construction of the foundations.
The superstructure is founded on piles of varying diameter augered into the underlying London clay. There is a double basement accommodating heavy plant for the building services.The construction of the basement consists of reinforced concrete flat slabs with large openings for densely packed services.
The structure of the main office building consists of an exposed precast concrete frame with elements that were filled with in situ concrete to form a composite construction.This unique combination of precast and in situ concrete meant that the structure could be constructed as a braced frame without the need for bracing walls in the cores - something that would not otherwise have been achievable in precast concrete.
The precast system had to be designed to accommodate the complex geometry, tight tolerances and multiple service penetrations that required meticulous attention to detail in the design and exceptional care in construction.At the front of the main towers are the lift cores and staircases, each housing five external glass lifts.The lift cores are supported on a slender structural steel frame that takes all its lateral stability from the main concrete structure. Perched on top of the cores and extending a further three levels are the lift motor rooms.
These have a fully welded steel frame to provide adequate support for the complex combinations of loads caused by the operation of the lifts and exposure to wind.
In addition to the new build works the project included refurbishment of the existing Grade II* listed building, including the addition of another storey.The entire rear elevation of the building was demolished to allow a new interface with the new build.A core structure has been introduced to the rear of the building, which is tied to the existing structure without loading onto it.Additional bracing is provided within the core to provide further stability to the existing building where the rear wall was removed, also stabilising the core itself.
CREDITS START ON SITE DATE New work December 1997 COMPLETION DATE 29 March 2001 GROSS EXTERNAL FLOOR AREA 34,000m 2FORM OF CONTRACT AND/OR PROCUREMENT Bespoke contract based on JCT 80 with contractor's design elements TOTAL CONSTRUCTION BUDGET £70 million CLIENT Lloyd's Register of Shipping ARCHITECT Richard Rogers Partnership: Ernesto Bartolini, Marco Goldschmied, Jane Hannan, Stephen Harty, Matthew Lake, Carmel Lewin, Steve Light, Avtar Lotay, Andrew Morris, Louise Palomba, Andrew Partridge, Richard Rogers, Graham Stirk, Guni Suri, Adrian Williams, Andy Young PROJECT MANAGER Richard Ellis MAIN CONTRACTOR Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Anthony Hunt Associates QUANTITY SURVEYOR AYH Partnership MECHANICAL & ELECTRICAL ENGINEER Arup LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Edward Hutchinson FIRE CONSULTANT Warrington Fire Research PLANNING CONSULTANT Montagu Evans CDM PLANNING SUPERVISOR Symonds Travers Morgan DISTRICT SURVEYOR Corporation of London STONEWORK CONSULTANT Carrig LIGHTING CONSULTANT Lighting Design Partnership ASBESTOS CONSULTANT RPS Consultant ERGONOMIST Michael Twist Associates SUPPLIERS AND SUBCONTRACTORS taps Toni Taps; glass Saint Gobain; ceilings Barrett;
electrical accessories Wandsworth; lights Zumtobel, DAL, Thorn;
Louis Poulsen; terrazzo floor Simsons; floor springs Geze; wall panels and doors Faithdean; WC cubicles Grant Westfield;
radiators in WC Zender;
sanitary fittings Armitage Shanks; laminate panels Formica; architectural metalwork Trollope Colls Elliott; core floors Luxcrete;
fittings to handrails Jakob;
pre-cast treads Malling Carborundum; inserts Gradus; chimneys Beaumont; grab rails and disabled accessories Hewi;
furniture Herman Miller;
metalwork Robinson Metalwork; main concrete structure O'Rourke;
precast concrete works Malling Precast; security Bell Security; fire doors Fendor Hansen; partitions Faram D-Line;
floor springs Dorma;
chilled beams Trox ; raised floor Durabella; cladding Permasteelisa; hard landscape Gabriel Contractors; kitchen units Ikea; rubber floor Jaymart;
carpets Milliken; catering Olympic; lifts Kone; piling Cementation Piling & Foundations; restoration works St Blaise, David Ball Restoration, Plowden & Smith; soft landscaping Enterprise Plants;
mechanical and BMS installations Haden Young; structural steelwork Rowen Structures; electrical installation Phoenix Electrical WEBLINKS Richard Rogers Partnership www. richardrogers. co. uk Anthony Hunt Associates www. anthonyhuntassociates. co. uk Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons www. sir-robert-mcalpine. com Arup www. arup. com