All change at the former home of BBC World Service, as the Aldwych landmark is reconfigured for the 21st century.
It is central London's biggest refurbishment job in some time. Bush House has been restored to its former glory. The project has taken two years, cost £60 million and involved 1,000 construction workers. These are just the latest superlatives for a building that was said to be the most expensive in the world when first constructed in the 1920s and 30s.
The central and most arresting section of the complex was completed in 1923. This Beaux-Arts masterpiece was followed by four surrounding blocks, completed in 1935. "I imagine there will be no other building in London containing so many business offices," said owner and dedicatee Irving T Bush in 1927. Almost vanished 'ghost signs' of some of the early tenants can still be seen on the entrance facade.
It was the arrival of the BBC in 1941 that gave the building its most lasting association. Bombed out of its Portland Place home in 1940, the BBC European Service moved to Bush House. Their new home was also damaged in 1944 when a German V1 weapon landed in the street outside. The scars have been patched up but remain visible on parts of the building.
Various departments of the BBC, most notably the World Service, remained in Bush House until 2012. Following that departure, the Japanese owners embarked on a major refurbishment of the complex, undertaken by JLL, ISG and John Robertson Architects. The conversion to general office space is tastefully done, letting original Edwardian features shine while stripping back decades of clutter installed by the BBC. Future tenants of this new 'Aldwych Quarter' will enjoy exceptional views of the Thames, Kingsway and the City, with interiors that have bags more character than the typical glass-and-steel office.
Take a look through the gallery above for more information on the building's transformation. With thanks to John Robertson Architects and ING Media for arranging our tour.