A fairly unremarkable 1980s office block that most people don’t even notice save the branch of Boots on the ground floor could be demolished and replaced with a hotel.
What the plans also means is that the largish Boots on Strand will have to close down. The current building was designed by Abbott Howard Partnership and built by Midland Bank Pension Trust, in 1983, and is frankly, rather unremarkable.
There had been plans to demolish the building a few years ago, and replacing it with a mix of offices and residential. And the proposed modern style concrete building looked lovely, if rather inappropriate for the area.
Flora Developments acquired the property in 2018 and instructed Squire and Partners to develop a hotel scheme instead.
The replacement is frankly, rather less interesting and looks more like a modern interpretation of an Edwardian block, which is unsurprising as the architects say that they have used the former J Lyons tea shop design that used to be on the site for inspiration.
It’s not an entirely unpleasant building, but hardly that exciting either. Almost as if they were trying to avoid upsetting anyone by being as inoffensive as possible. When completed the building will comprise a restaurant and lounge on ground floor, 10 storeys of hotel guestrooms, and an all-day restaurant on the top floor.
As the building steps back at the top to reduce the impact on the skyline, it’s a pity that a similar design wasn’t applied at street level, to create a recess so that the entrance is a bit more interesting, and create more space on the pavement for pedestrians, as the current building does.
One of the more interesting aspects of the building though will be hidden from view, as it’s how they engineer the structure to cope with the fact that there’s a lot of tube tunnels directly underneath the new hotel. They’ve done some modelling, which TfL seems happy with to rebalance the load away from the tube tunnels and into piles that will drill down to one side.
A final thought – one sentence in the long planning application stands out… “In order to take full advantage of the unique location and the magnificent views to every direction from the top of the proposed scheme, we introduced an outdoor/terrace area on the roof level, which would be open to the public”
Open to the public, with views across to Trafalgar Square.
Quite how open it will be remains to be seen though.
All images from the planning application.