Allen & Overy
One Bishops Square, London, United Kingdom
Square Footage: 500,000
Best Large Workplace, Shortlisted, 2007
The decision to relocate most of Allen & Overy’s London operations to One Bishops Square was a huge step forward for the firm – one which would provide more than 2,500 lawyers and support staff with a state of the art building tailor made for the way they work and a perfect space in which to welcome and entertain clients.
Bishops Square is located in the City of London and forms part of the comprehensive redevelopment of the Spitalfields site and the former 1928 fruit and vegetable market buildings.
The unique ‘four-fingered’ building, designed by Foster + Partners, with three internal atria provided a wealth of design opportunities. Bishops Square will be Allen & Overy’s main London home for the next generation and the interior had to reflect this as well as be a supportive and flexible workplace with a variety of working and entertaining spaces supporting the business functions and the staff. The health and wellbeing of staff was a priority and staff amenities include a large, high quality gym with a two storey sports hall as well as therapy rooms, a dental practice, multi-faith room, and music and dance rooms.
The legal profession relies heavily on its ability to function as a client facing organisation. Allen & Overy is no exception. The new building had to demonstrate a clear need for appropriately high quality, well specified and a diverse range of client meeting and entertainment facilities including 60,000sqft of meeting rooms, dedicated 320 seat multi use auditorium, and client dining rooms. Ease of navigation and wayfinding was essential, so the branding and signage was a key part of the design. In addition over 80 works of art by more than 20 artists of different nationalities have been integrated into the design of the offices. The range of art includes photography, textiles, sculpture, painting, and cutting edge digital work.
Prior to the design and implementation of the Bishops Square project, Allen & Overy carried out pilot studies to test open plan team working for lawyers at their Wood Street and Canary Wharf offices. The pilot studies and subsequent analysis demonstrated overwhelming support for retaining the cellular approach. This then set the strategy for the new building but with a new concept of ‘courtyards’ for the team working areas.
Creating an environmentally sympathetic, energy efficient building was one of the essential considerations of the design. Bishops Square is one of the biggest developments in the City of London and the building complies with all the required building regulations and statutory requirements. It also incorporates the largest commercial photovoltaic installation in Europe, producing enough energy to power the landscape lighting across the site.