The Rothschild family first moved to the site on New Court in London over 200 years ago. Building upon a palimpsest of different buildings throughout the site’s history, a new headquarters was designed to house all of the company’s departments. The aesthetic character is a reflection of the family’s close comparison to the Medici’s from Florence. The complex is a hybrid of a central cube, dedicated to open office space, and appendices containing all necessary support spaces. The base of the cube is floated above ground level to permit views from St Swithin’s Lane to the Church of St Stephen Walbrook, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. This also creates a new access connection between the church and St. Swithin’s Lane, which had been closed off since 1800. The project thus adds space to the dense city fabric rather than subtracting. The top is complete with a 3 level sky pavilion built over the datum line of existing buildings, giving users clear view over all of London.
I joined the eight-person collaboration between Allies and Morrison and Office for Metropolitan Architecture (under the direction of Ellen van Loon from OMA and Andrew Dean from Allies and Morrison) just as the previous building had been destructed and our project was on site. I worked on the project during the majority of on-site construction prior to fit-out. The project was opened in the fall of 2011 and has been published a number of times.
Prior to joining the team, the diagonal ties between vertical members were organized in a random pattern. My first task was to bring order to these elements and create a logical rule set for the direction and location of each diagonal tie so that they merged within the façade. Internally, these ties became a way-finding mechanism for self-orientation.
I was involved in detailing all connections to neighboring buildings, both physically and visually. Working directly with our façade manufacturer and engineers, I drew many of the details as built under the supervision of the project architect. I also developed an idea set fourth by OMA, which would use a frit pattern between glass panes on one façade to create a faux upward shadow of the Christopher Wren church adjacent to the project. I used 3D modeling to map out the pattern on the façade, outlining each edge of the church in perspective proportions.
A detail view of the frit pattern and expanded metal mesh between the panes of glass.