Five months after insurance giant Lloyd’s of London announced that it would be transforming the three-story Underwriting Room at the heart of its One Lime Street headquarters in London, the 300-year-old company has decided to put its plans on hold.
The overhaul of the 197-foot-atrium and supporting spaces in Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ (RSHP) inside-out tower would have been, as Lloyd’s described it at the time, a “once-in-a-generation” project. Spurred by the shift to remote work driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lloyd’s was in talks with several architects to repurpose what was once the beating heart of its operations to better accommodate health and safety concerns.
However, according to The Architects’ Journal, that plan has been halted as Lloyd’s weighs whether to break its lease early and leave the Grade-I listed 14-story tower. With more people working from home and centralized offices less of a necessity, the company told AJ that it would come to a final decision on the fate of the Underwriting Room sometime later this year.
In addition to the atrium, Lloyd’s was also reportedly considering adding additional amenities to the building such as a market hall, restaurants, a wellness facility complete with a gym, and a terrace bar, with some of them open to the public to help supplement income.
Completed in 1986 after eight years of construction, the High Tech headquarters was an early career triumph for the late Richard Rogers, won on the heels of the successful Pompidou Center debut in 1977. It became RSHP’s only listed project when it was awarded historic protections by the U.K. government in 2011.
Lloyd’s has, again in-part due to the pandemic and shift in working patterns, reportedly been mulling a move from the building it has occupied for the last 36 years. Although the lease doesn’t officially end until 2031, Lloyd’s could exercise a clause allowing it to break the lease in 2026 and ultimately vacate, but it’s uncertain how a new tenant might adapt to the purpose-built tower.
When pressed by the AJ, a Lloyd’s spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the rumors that the company was considering leaving early and that it would release a final decision on the future of the building later this year.