Bracken House,the rebirth of Richardson's “City Palace”
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Bracken House,the rebirth of Richardson's “City Palace”

John Robertson Architects

Bracken House,the rebirth of  Richardson's “City Palace”
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John Robertson Architects’ refurbishment of Bracken House has breathed new life into Albert Richardson’s original design, renewing its appearance and expanding its spaces.

Bracken House was designed by Sir Albert Richardson in 1958 as the new headquarters of the Financial Times. When the project was completed in ’59, Richardson called it his “City Palace.” Widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece, it was the first post-war office building to receive listed building status.

After acquiring Bracken House in 1987, Obayashi Corporation appointed Michael Hopkins & Partners to remodel Richardson’s design in the high-tech style, adapting it to the needs of the burgeoning financial markets of the day.

Thirty years later, Obayashi chose JRA as the third generation of architects to refurbish the building. This sensitive refurbishment has made it possible for the FT to relocate its headquarters back to the iconic building.

The new entrance improves accessibility, while providing large business lounge areas. The original glazed partitions have been moved to enclose the space and create a welcoming “open arms” gesture that draws visitors in towards the central atrium and main circulation zone.

The tension between the block from the ’90s and the original wings from the ’50s has been softened by the sensitive architectural composition. The modular concrete and oak wall panels, anodized aluminum cladding, white floors, and the slatted timber ceilings seamlessly connect the different floor levels between the offices.

The newly built roof terrace completes what Hopkins had originally envisioned as the building’s “fifth elevation”. Inspired by the optical illusion created by the oval cupola of Palazzo Carignano in Turin, the undulating landscaping draws on the legacy of past generations of architects and complements the extraordinary urban landscape that surrounds the building. The design of the roof terrace needed to respect the constraints imposed by the St Paul’s Heights Grid, which limits the height of any roofing work.


Client: Obayashi Corporation

Architect/Principal Designer: John Robertson Architects

Project Manager: Turner & Townsend

Cost Concultant: Turner & Townsend

Engineering Services: Arup

Landscape Architects: Townshend Landscape Architects

CDM Advisor: Bureau Veritas

Building Control: Bureau Veritas

Heritage Consultant: Purcell

Agency/Lease Advisory: CBRE

Agency/Lease Advisory: JLL

Main Contractor: McLaren Construction


Photos: Peter Cook, Jason Hawkes e JRA

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