Bush House: A London Landmark Restored

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By M@ Last edited 46 months ago
Bush House: A London Landmark Restored
The grand travertine marble entrance features two statues symbolising the friendship between Britain and America. These were unveiled by Lord Balfour on, symbolically, 4 July 1925, who declared "a union of hearts which depends on no treaties".
The grand travertine marble entrance features two statues symbolising the friendship between Britain and America. These were unveiled by Lord Balfour on, symbolically, 4 July 1925, who declared "a union of hearts which depends on no treaties".
Looking up at the 'big business classicism' of the entrance niche. Courtesy of Hufton+Crow.
Looking up at the 'big business classicism' of the entrance niche. Courtesy of Hufton+Crow.
Close up of the entrance statues, which represent Anglo-American friendship, by Malvina Hoffman. The artist made adjustments to the statues in situ, often while sitting on their shoulders. Each statue was hewn from a 20-ton piece of stone.
Close up of the entrance statues, which represent Anglo-American friendship, by Malvina Hoffman. The artist made adjustments to the statues in situ, often while sitting on their shoulders. Each statue was hewn from a 20-ton piece of stone.
The main lobby of Bush House has been restored to its former glory. Courtesy of Hufton+Crow.
The main lobby of Bush House has been restored to its former glory. Courtesy of Hufton+Crow.
The buildings contain original postal chutes.
The buildings contain original postal chutes.
Modern floor plates  cater for small or large companies. Original fittings remain on the windows.
Modern floor plates cater for small or large companies. Original fittings remain on the windows.
The main staircase inside the South East Building.
The main staircase inside the South East Building.
Many of the office spaces have spectacular views of the city.
Many of the office spaces have spectacular views of the city.
Looking along Kingsway, the street  is surprisingly like a Parisian boulevard.
Looking along Kingsway, the street is surprisingly like a Parisian boulevard.
Original 1930s staircase.
Original 1930s staircase.
Much of the renovation concerned itself with restoring original features. New interventions, such as the floor numbers and lighting, are in complementary style. Indeed, the number font is Gill Sans, developed by Eric Gill who worked closely with the BBC.
Much of the renovation concerned itself with restoring original features. New interventions, such as the floor numbers and lighting, are in complementary style. Indeed, the number font is Gill Sans, developed by Eric Gill who worked closely with the BBC.

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.

Last Updated 21 October 2014