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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Office

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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Katie Gerfen

Project Name

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Office

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17,438 sq. feet


Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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Text by Katie Gerfen

With its lease expiring at the Thames Wharf complex it had called home for more than 30 years, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) set out to find a new office location for its 200-plus employees in central London. With sky-high rental rates, finding space was difficult, but when an option floor at the firm’s recently completed Leadenhall Building (known as “The Cheesegrater”) was offered, RSHP jumped at it. Ensconced since the beginning of the year on the tower’s newly outfitted 14th floor, RSHP employees now enjoy views of Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and a piece of the firm’s own design history: Lloyd’s of London.

Back at Thames Wharf, RSHP employees were split across multiple floors in three different buildings, but now everyone shares space in a 17,438-square-foot open office. The ceiling structure was exposed to increase height and to allow visitors to “read the primary nature of the building,” senior partner Graham Stirk says. A modified Ahrend benching system allows flexibility for team members to move around as new project groups form. Speirs + Major designed a lighting system with a custom version of Spectral Lighting’s Iris fixture; color temperatures and light levels change during the day to reduce eye strain. Bringing everyone together in one space “felt like an intellectual shift,” Stirk says. “The connectivity is fascinating.”

The enclosed spaces in the office, such as meeting rooms, print shop, and model shop (shown here), are all grouped near the building core at the north end of the floor plate to leave views from the open floor unimpeded. But these enclosed spaces are by no means hidden from view: Glass walls put the craft on display and ensure that visitors and employees alike can see every part of the design process. Even the server room is on view. What you won’t find are private offices. The partners sit in the main space, and, in fact, the primary corner locations were given over to breakout areas. “It reflects a more democratic notion,” Stirk says. “We exploited the corners as something that could be used by anyone.”

The colorful interior was inspired by RSHP’s overall design for the Leadenhall Building, and is a big change from the white walls at Thames Wharf. “The green carpet was a counterbalance to the neutrality of the ceiling,” Stirk says. “We were working off of extreme contrast, which is what the building is about.” The famed double-height model wall in the Thames Wharf studio is reimagined in the Leadenhall Building as an entrance gallery with views into the new model shop and meeting rooms. Having the life-size model of the Leadenhall Building on hand to demonstrate systems and skills to visiting clients is a boon. “You can see our enjoyment and celebration of fabric and technology,” Stirk explains. The presence of the colorful studio inside a “serious office building in the City of London” also “says a great deal about our culture,” Stirk says. “We’re not corporate. We’re designers.”

Project Credits
Project: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Office, London
Client/Design Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, London . Andrew Morris, Andrew Tyley, Graham Stirk, Ian Birtles, Ivan Harbour, John McElgunn, Lennart Grut, Richard Paul, Richard Rogers, Hon. FAIA , Simon Smithson, Stephen Barrett, Stephen Light, Tracy Meller (partners); Maurice Brennan, Andy Young (project architects); Will Clayton, Seamus Conway, Kelly Darlington, Veronika Gilwa, Dan Hanna, Ed Hiscock, Emily Maisey, Mark Read, Annabel Rootes, Willem Kok, Andrew Yek (project team)
Structural/Service Engineer: Arup
Lighting: Speirs + Major
Contractor: Ruddy Joinery and Fit-Out Specialists
M&E Contractor: BPI
Landscape Design: Dan Pearson Studio
IT Consultants: Modern Networks/Cordless
Size: 17,438 square feet (1,620 square meters)
Contract Value: £2.3 million ($3.38 million), including £1.1 of IT

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