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An opportunity has been provided to some of the UK’s top architects to design the new headquarters for the Metropolitan Police. And for the organisation itself, the chance to rebrand also lies behind the decision to relocate.
The familiar sight of New Scotland Yard will be sold as part of budget reduction plans, for the sum of £150m, and the new site will be the 1930s Curtis Green building. Situated on the Thames, in sight of the London Eye and adjacent to the Ministry of Defence, the Met’s new building will be known as Scotland Yard. The chances are, the building will look somewhat different once completed, in 2015. The architects who have been asked to submit plans are those behind the Gherkin, Google’s new offices in London, and three more who have been responsible for designing eye-catching theatres, department stores and an opera house. Stipulations for the Scotland Yard design include ‘innovative interior design’ and an external form ‘in tune with London of the 21st century’. The concrete-and-steel frontage of New Scotland Yard will not be carried over into the new project; instead a public space will exist in front ‘to provide positive contact between the building and the general public and visitors’. Inside, the emphasis will be on open space and interaction rather than closed-door offices. Of course, the iconic revolving sign will also be incorporated.
The shortlisted architects are Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, responsible for the £650m London Google headquarters; Keith Williams Architects, who designed the Unicorn Theatre, London, and the Wexford Opera House in Ireland; Allies & Morrison who co-designed the London Olympic Games masterplan; Norman Foster is a favourite to win the commission, while Lifshutz Davidson Sandilands designed the HQ for auctioneers Bonhams and various Harvey Nichols restaurants.
The themes for the Met’s new offices will be modernity and efficiency, while retaining the history of the 1930s building itself. In a sense, the organisation is hoping that the change of location can do the same for its reputation and public face: to show that it has moved on from the negative findings of recent years into a new age, in which it can represent the citizens of London that it serves, while retaining the positive aspects of its history.
It will be interesting to see whether a building can achieve this. It is just essentially four walls, and a change of ‘frontage’ is unlikely to convince the public that the institution has undergone a fundamental change. Yet, perhaps the power of rebranding will work to some extent, and not to be underestimated is the change of environment on those who work within it. Watch this space …
This news was brought to you by Morgan Pryce, a specialist tenant acquisition agent with offices in Oxford Circus and the City. Morgan Pryce specialises in search, negotiation and project management and works exclusively for tenants. View other articles by Morgan Pryce