WILL LLOYD'S BE ABLE TO CHANGE?
Richard Rogers designed the famous Lloyd's Building in the City of London to be flexible.
Yet now proposed changes to the landmark - planned by an offshoot of Rogers' fi rm - are potentially set to be reined in.
This week, the Twentieth Century Society (C20) made clear its intention of garnering widespread support for the spot listing of the Lloyd's Building.
The move has come shortly after FLACQ - a practice formed by four exRogers staffers - announced plans to revamp the interior of the building. The practice is also proposing potentially dramatic measures to overhaul the landmark's entrances.
FLACQ's involvement in the project follows speculation that Lloyd's took issue with the work of commercial giant Gensler, after the firm was quietly dropped from the redevelopment in January 2005.
C20 director Catherine Croft told the AJ that she would very much like to be 'at the table' during negotiations to approve any work on the iconic 1986 building.
Croft's organisation is in the process of drawing up a list of backers - likely to include a string of big-name architects - for the campaign to win listing. She said: 'It's been one of those buildings that everyone assumed would be listed as soon as it was threatened.
'It's one of those landmarks that has been universally acclaimed for taking architectural discourse forward.' FLACQ has, however, been working closely on the project with both Rogers himself and the Modernist expert Kenneth Powell.
These new kids on the block have won the commission to upgrade the building's underwriting room, the wellknown architectural and social focal point of the building, which is known simply as 'The Room'.
This was originally designed for underwriters and brokers at the insurance house, who need open-plan space to circulate and strike deals. Here, expansion was made possible by Rogers' original design.
FLACQ has also won the opportunity to upgrade the building's reception areas, as well as reviewing its 'circulation strategy' and potentially creating a new visitors' entrance - at the moment taking the form of a 'glass pod' - at Tower One on Leadenhall Street. This would primarily be to update the building's requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act.
FLACQ was appointed early last year ahead of Gensler and Eva Jiricna.
Jiricna worked on much of the building's original interior with Rogers, but observers have speculated that she would not have proposed anything sufficiently different from what was already there.
Gensler was originally in quite advanced talks about the redevelopment, but was subsequently dropped.
FLACQ won the commission after a series of competitive interviews.
FLACQ's Marcus Lee, who is working on new proposals alongside fellow director Hal Currey, worked on the original building with Rogers and is known to be sensitive to the peer's wishes for the future of the landmark.
He has even claimed that his proposals - largely focusing on the building's interior - would be unaffected by any attempt to get the building listed, successful or not.
However, this remark has failed to mollify C20. Croft said: 'We would still try and get it listed if anyone was proposing substantial alterations.
'Listing would enable us to have more influence over any new designs, if we wanted to.' Currey, though, stands fast in his claim that his practice's work would not upset those intent on preserving the fabric of a building that, it was claimed in these pages when it was first unveiled, heralded a new phase of Modernism.
Currey said that his practice was working very much 'in the spirit' of the original building and that he was keen to maintain the integrity of 'The Room'.
He continued: 'Our proposals, which are still at an early stage, reinforce the use of the cores of the building as key entry points.
'They reflect the central elements of Rogers' original design principles - that the building should provide flexibility and should be able to respond to changing needs.
'We have been advised that the proposals that are currently being tabled would be acceptable in terms of a possible listed status for the building.'
Any deliberations might prove to be a bit hasty, however.
Lloyds has had its revamp - including a rebranding and improvement programme - on ice since October after the firm suffered heavy losses due to Hurricane Katrina.
It is unclear how long it will take for the massive company to recover its finances sufficiently to be ready to fund FLACQ's proposals.
We will have to wait and see if Rogers' original means of creating 'freedom of choice and lack of constraint for the client' (AJ 22.10.86) might actually be put to the test.