Renovation

The Sammy Ofer Centre by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Marylebone Road, Paddington, London.
Developer: London Business School
Contractor: Wates Construction
Photography Client / Architect: Sheppard Robson

London based architectural practice Sheppard Robson recently completed a major renovation of the Old Marylebone Town Hall transforming it into a new, expaned faculty for the London Business School. The Sammy Ofer Centre - named in honour of the late Sammy Ofer, the celebrated Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist - contains many new facilities including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and student lounge. The projects most distinctive external feature is the new glass and steel entrance which links the Old Town Hall to the Annex buildings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

I was commissioned by Sheppard Robson architects to photograph several specific views externally, along with some interior shots that matched up identically in composition and framing to a series of black and white originals taken many years previously and held in the RIBA's photographic archive. Unfortunately I don't have access to these images presently so am unable provide side by side comparisons.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

At the buildings rear are further contrasts between the old and new elements; in front of the new atrium is a lone retained arch and further down, an new angular limestone and glass curtain wall which nudges up to the original more ornate stonework. Housed within this new structure are the six lecture theaters, the largest two of which conjoin to create a space with the capacity to seat 200 students.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

Sheppard Robsons' interior design team ID:SR worked on the buildings internal fit out which comprises new modern spaces alongside retained, renovated elements of the original Old Marylebone Town Hall. There is a level opulence befitting of the schools prestigious reputation and the new furnishings work in harmony with the more classical elements of the original structure.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The irregular floor plan of the original building, with its alcoves and long narrow corridors has been utilised by ID:SR to great affect; creating areas for private discussion and study alongside other more open, less defined spaces which are more likely to promote encounters among students and hence being conducive to the exchange of ideas and discussion - an integral function of a business school.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The new lecture theaters, of which there are six, are strikingly modern with wooden panels and strip-lighting traversing the walls and ceiling, ebbing out jagged contours which follow the dynamic alignment of seating below. All of this is reminiscent of some of the grand architectural designs found in modern philharmonic halls and theater spaces.

The buildings scale is hard to comprehend externally, compounded by the many divisions of its internal space to incorporate a variety of uses throughout. The fact that there is a harmony of contrasts within, and on the outside, is testament to  Sheppard Robson Architects careful and considered approach to the renovation. More images of this building can be found in under my projects.

103-109 Wardour Street by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

103-109 Wardour Street, Soho by Sheppard Robson -  Copyright © Alex Upton

103-109 Wardour Street, Soho by Sheppard Robson -  Copyright © Alex Upton

Architectural Photography of 103-109 Wardour Street

Location: 103-109 Wardour Street, Soho, London.
Architect / Client: Sheppard Robson
Developer: Legal & General Investment Management

103-109 Wardour Street, once home to Pathé Films has been transformed by Sheppard Robson Architects and their interior division ID:SR Interiors into 13 luxury apartments, a gym and two duplex penthouses. I was recently commissioned by Sheppard Robson to photograph the road side elevation which features the beautifully restored Portland Stone Edwardian facade. This was not the first intervention to give the early 1900's building a new lease of life, in 1996 all but the frontage had been removed and replaced with a structure of somewhat lesser design quality. Sheppard Robson's approach has been to create a more coherent rapport between the facade and the rest of the building, maintaining a consistency of quality while still being unabashedly modern in its approach.   

103-109 Wardour Street Facade Detail -  Copyright © Alex Upton

103-109 Wardour Street Facade Detail -  Copyright © Alex Upton

Notes on the Photography

The building is located in the vibrant district of Soho along a dense stretch of narrow road. The window for photographing the building under the ideal lighting conditions was narrow and coincided with the early morning deliveries being made to replenish the local cafes and bistros. With several parking spaces inconveniently acting as magnets for delivery vans and other four wheeled obstructions, it was no easy task to photograph, especially when compounded by its proximity to the adjacent buildings. Timing, agility and awareness were once again pushed to their limits, which led to a spontaneously choreographed performance between photographer, impatient van driver and, don't block my way, i'm late for work, city worker.

103-109 Wardour Street Arched Window Detail -  Copyright © Alex Upton

103-109 Wardour Street Arched Window Detail -  Copyright © Alex Upton

The original detailing on the facade, from the stone-work to the intricate lead spacers between the window panels is now harmonious with the opulence of the newly created interior. In addition to its aesthetic qualities the building also offers high sustainability credentials, achieving BREEAM Eco-homes Excellent for the refurbished elements. With the respectful marriage of classic and modern elements architects Sheppard Robson have created a high quality space which will no doubt be a highly desirable place to live.