Chipperfield and Feix & Merlin win approval for LSE ‘set piece’ retrofit

The scheme to part-retrofit and extend an unlisted 1950s building at 35-37 Lincoln’s Inn Fields received planning consent yes،ay (14 May).

The £120 million Firoz Lalji Global Hub will deliver an eight-storey 12,500m² facility by revamping and adding to the existing block.

As well as ،using conference areas, tea،g ،es and di،al labs, it will also include a film studio, a 250-seat theatre, seminar rooms, break-out areas, research accommodation and a café.

Planning officers at Westminster had recommended approval of the scheme because of its ‘significant’ public benefits which, they said, outweighed the less than substantial heritage harm caused to the neighbouring Grade-II listed Royal College of Surgeons.

But Historic England had criticised the proposals ‘partly due to the loss of the Neo-Georgian frontage’ and ‘largely because of the visual dominance and encroachment on the historic streetscape caused by the projection and extension of the building’s upper portion’.

The heritage ،y concluded: ‘We think the additional height could be accommodated more sensitively if the upper storeys maintain the existing recessed arrangement, and have advised that the design is revisited.’

The LSE defended its plans at the time and told the AJ it was ‘trying to do the right thing’ by revamping the eight-storey building, which is aiming for BREEAM outstanding, P،ivhaus standard and WELL certified, and will be the LSE’s first net zero building.

Several changes were introduced ahead of the planning committee, including changes to some balconies to introduce more symmetry to the facade, the LSE said.

Chipperfield director Alasdair Graham said of the consent: ‘This is a groundbreaking transformation project with the highest sustainability ambitions, that will achieve both em،ied and operational net zero carbon standards and P،ivhaus certification. The project pioneers an approach that we believe will soon become standard practice in ،w we transform our existing building stock for the future.’

The project team said that the Firoz Lalji Global Hub would retain as much as 60 per cent of the existing Nuffield Building, designed by Alner W Hall of Young and Hall Architects and built between 1954 and 1957.

LSE estate manager Julian Robinson told the AJ last year: ‘Imagine this building not as a heritage conservation project because it’s not the Neues Museum; it’s a 1950s building with pretty poor pastiche [façade and] it’s fair to say we are getting pushback in respect of [changing that].’

He added: ‘We’re trying to create a new paradigm here, but I don’t think Historic England and the planners [at Westminster Council] have actually caught up with that. So it’s going to be very interesting to see ،w this pans out.’

The LSE has invested more than £500 million in transforming its London Aldwych campus over the past 15 years and is now turning its attention towards ‘underperforming and i،equate buildings’ in its drive to become net zero carbon by 2030.

This month, the LSE named Carmody Groarke and Sheppard Robson as winners of a contest to redevelop itsBankside House hall of residence.

Chipperfield and Feix & Merlin were c،sen ahead of more than 100 practices, including Alison Brooks with Nigerian practice Studio Contra; a team comprising John McAslan + Partners, US-based Tod Williams/Billie Tsien Architects and Bangladesh architect Marina Tab،um; Danish architect Dorte Mandrup with London-based John Robertson Architects; Feilden Clegg Bradley with Danish practice Lendager; and Belfast-based Hall McKnight.

Pilbrow & Partners previously completed a feasibility study proposing a new office building for the Royal College of Surgeons on the plot in 2013.