Lehman Smith McLeish
Encompassing a mere square mile of area, the City of London exemplifies a dense urban fabric. Commercial real-estate developers have typically responded to crowded conditions by reaching skyward: two of London's three tallest buildings'the KPF-designed Heron Tower and Renzo Piano's Shard, both completed in 2010'are within this downtown core.
The opening of One New Change that same year demonstrates that not every contemporary icon requires a place in the skyline. Located directly across from St. Paul's Cathedral (itself a onetime record holder in building height), Jean Nouvel's mixed-use complex comprises 560,000 square feet on only six floors. The low-slung arrangement created equally sprawling interiors for office tenants like the law firm K&L Gates. Previously, its 380 London-based employees occupied 75,230 square feet on nine floors at 110 Cannon, a nondescript mid-rise building a half-mile east of the cathedral. The move honored a commitment to staying within the transit-accessible City area, while expanding to 102,000 square feet on only two floors.
The space did not seem entirely usable at first. To protect views of St. Paul's, Nouvel had sculpted the building shell into a series of facets that, in turn, diminished ceiling heights of some interiors overlooking the narrow courtyard. Washington, D.C.'based architect Lehman Smith McLeish (LSM) configured the law firm's public spaces within this zone to make limitations appear intentional, exemplified by a double-height multipurpose room there.
'It's clear to see how they have embraced and enhanced the architecture of the building,' says Kaela Fenn-Smith, head of leasing for Land Securities, which owns One New Change. Land Securities toured other potential tenants through the office to demonstrate the building's promise; it filled the last remaining vacancy in January.
Meanwhile, K&L Gates is reaping its own benefits from the scheme. The new office has 150 percent as much common space as the previous address. The design strategy, immediately embraced by employees, creates alternative work areas that promote connectivity to clients and within staff. During the first six months of occupancy, meeting bookings were 58 percent higher than in the same period the year prior; K&L averaged 385 meetings per month in 2011, increasing to 542 in 2012. Similarly, within that same year and a half, the London branch hosted 18 advertised events, compared with seven at 110 Cannon.
LSM interspersed double-occupancy workstations with teaming areas to encourage interaction among lawyers and support staff. Along with an iconic new address, the open, daylit floors and collaborative spaces have had a positive impact on employee output, client services, and, says administrative partner Antony Griffiths, lateral hiring from the firm's 47 other offices worldwide. This company shift of attorneys, with their clients, is largely responsible for boosting business and profits. According to chairman Peter Kalis, the London office increased revenue by 10 percent in 2011 and another 8 percent in 2012.
Lehman Smith McLeish
1212 Banks, NW
Washington, DC 20007
P: (202) 295-4800
F: (202) 295-4857
Completion Date: May 2011
Gross square footage: 102,000 square feet
Total construction cost: withheld
Peter Kalis, Chairman and Global Managing Partner
In London: +44(0)75 7208 4696
Debra Lehman-Smith, Partner
K&L Gates Global Real Estate Advisor
David Fitzgerald, Global Advisor
Colette O’Shea, Development Director
Beverley Stewart, Principal
Paul Cossell, Managing Director
Trevor Raynsford, Director
Christopher Seider, Principal
One Castle Row, Horticultural Place
Michael Schuch, Partner
Lisa Austin, Principal
Sian Brereton, Director
Base Building Modifications Architect:
Construction Administration Support
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Kitchens and Tea Points
Floor and Wall Stone
Carpet – General Office
Carpet – Specialty