Wednesday, 10 July 2019
I think Robert Adam would be very pleased with fellow architect and Scotsman John Robertson for not only extending the life several of his buildings, but also for respecting his original work that survived bomb damage during the Second World War.
7/8 Frederick’s Place which sits off Old Jewry a few yards from Cheapside, the busiest shopping street in the City, and forms part of a group of buildings all owned by The Mercers' Company. The Company asked Robertson and his team at JRA to work on a masterplan for the buildings in this small street, that in its time was home to Sir John Frederick (Lord Mayor 1661), Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1821-1824) and the offices of what was to become accountants Price Waterhouse. Simon Taylor, The Mercers' Company Property Director, asset managed the street to vacant possession to enable the whole to come together and allow regeneration to take place under a JRA master plan. This has seen the Livery Company secure a new entrance into its Hall through No.6 Frederick’s Place, Nos. 7/8 refurbished while Nos. 1/3 will complete their upgrade in November this year. Planning consent for other buildings has been or is in the process of being obtained.
Nos. 6/7 offer contemporary and functional office in a very good location only 200 yards from Bank which has seen all the offices fully leased only a short time after completion, while a ground floor café operation is expected to be signed shortly. Excellent rents have also been achieved underlining that the Mercers have produced the right product at the right time given the changing market due to the impact of Serviced Office operators.
Throughout the building a mixture of brickwork has been left exposed – some original, some Victorian and some post war – while two Adam fireplaces, an original ceiling and staircase have all been restored. Each floor has been opened up so that small office suites could be offered if required, although each floor has subsequently been let to single tenants attracted by interesting, yet functional space with modern kitchen and toilet facilities all served by a new lift and a VRF cooling system.
The tall ceilings allow in plenty of light while a covered lightwell brings a brightness into the café area. Other spaces have a contemporary white cladding to the walls, which does not reach full height leaving exposed brickwork above, with uplighting carefully hidden behind the cladding. Steel beams are also on show giving an almost industrial feel in places.
The City Corporation is currently resurfacing Frederick’s Place, paid for by the Mercers which will create a pedestrianised approach to the buildings. All the office space in Nos. 1/3 is currently under offer, so I feel sure Robert Adam would be very grateful to the Mercers' for respecting his original buildings and admire the creative design of JRA in bringing these buildings back to life in a sensitive yet also profitable way.
I can’t wait to return later in the year to see the completed project.
Words and images: Simon O'Donnell
City Architecture Forum member
Priority Real Estate