Lloyd’s of London will revamp interior of its Richard Rogers-designed, listed headquarters

Underwriting, Overhauled

Lloyd’s of London will revamp interior of its Richard Rogers-designed, listed headquarters

The underwriting room at the Lloyd’s building in London was going to be revamped for a post-pandemic future, but plans have been put on indefinite hold. (Courtesy Lloyd’s)

The 300-plus-year-old British coffee house-turned-insurance institution Lloyd’s of London announced that it will embark on a substantial interior redesign of its iconic “inside-out” home at One Lime Street in London’s financial district to better suit its post-pandemic health and safety needs. The planned renovations will reportedly center on the building’s famed underwriting room, housed within a soaring, 197-foot atrium, and other workspaces according to The Architects’ Journal.

Standing as one of the British capital city’s most curious and emblematic works of modern architecture, the Lloyd’s building was designed by the eponymous architecture practice of Richard Rogers, now Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), and completed in 1986 following an 8-year construction process. Arup and Bovis served as key project partners alongside the Richard Rogers Partnership, in the roles of structural and services engineer and general contractor, respectively.

The lloyd’s of london HQ in stainless steel swirls
Exterior of the famously futuristic Lloyd’s building in central London. (Courtesy Lloyd’s)

In 2011, 25 years after its completion, the Lloyd’s building was Grade I listed, joining landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, Liverpool Cathedral, Blackpool Tower, and Palace of Westminster as the youngest building ever to receive the top heritage designation conferred by Historic England. Famous for its exterior glass elevators, Lutine Bell, and numerous cameo appearances in film and television, the 14-story Bowellist building is RSHP’s only listed work.

As noted by Building Design, RSHP has remained mum on the planned overhaul, which is being described by Lloyd’s as a “once-in-a-generation” project. (The Rogers- and Renzo Piano-designed Centre Pompidou, the Lloyd’s Building’s older Parisian sibling, is similarly slated for extensive renovations.) The Pritzker Prize-winning Rogers announced his retirement from the firm in September 2020 at the age of 87 although the “R” in RHSP has yet to be dropped, a change that will occur by the end of this year.

Per Building Design, “several architects” have reportedly been in talks with Lloyd’s leadership to potentially head the redesign, which was first formally teased in April. However, these discussions were just exploratory and “there are no immediate plans to engage with them until we have fully explored all the options available to us,” according to a Lloyd’s spokesperson.

Interior of a massive atrium space with sprawling escalators in every direction
View of the four-story underwriting room from the atrium. (Courtesy Lloyd’s)

As the spokesperson elaborated in a statement to the British media:

“We have embarked on a once-in-a-generation journey to redesign the iconic underwriting room and supporting spaces in the Lloyd’s building.

The decision to undertake this journey has been driven by the increasing trends of flexible working and digitalisation, which have been accelerated by the covid-19 pandemic. Through [the first quarter of] 2021, we completed an extensive market consultation to gather insights and ideas about the future requirements for spaces and services our marketplace needs. Currently, like many other organisations, we are considering a range of options around our workspace strategy and the future leasing arrangements for Lloyd’s.”

The overhaul, as mentioned, will focus largely on reconfiguring the underwriting room, which gained a virtual counterpart during the pandemic, and associated spaces. However, as detailed by City A.M., Lloyd’s is also mulling adding several amenities, some public-facing, including a view-heavy fine dining restaurant on an upper floor as well as a market hall, terrace bar, and “wellbeing” facility complete with a gym and dedicated spaces for quiet contemplation.

The building has been at the center of numerous climate protests, some involving coal dumps and stink bombs, in recent months.