Smithson Plaza

Completed by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1964 for The Economist, and acquired by Tishman Speyer in 2016, when the magazine departed, The Economist Plaza has now been refurbished and renamed ‘Smithson Plaza’ in honour of the original architects.

In conversation with distinguished scholars and experts of the Smithsons' work, DSDHA have considered the impact of incremental changes since 1964 and have assessed what might be preserved or changed , to devise a phased conservation framework for the complex's sensitive restoration and substantial environmental upgrade.

The grade II* listed architectural icon comprises an elegant raised pedestrian plaza around which three finely detailed buildings are arranged: the 15-storey Office Tower, the 5-storey Bank Building and the 8-storey Residential Building. Phase one has now been delivered and has seen the plaza resurfaced with new lobbies to both the residential and office towers. In addition six floors of the Office Tower were renovated to create approximately 2,000m² of Grade A work spaces, with enhanced environmental performance through the installation of new double-glazed windows, insulation and discrete new services and lifts. All of which has reduced the environmental impact by 60%. Four floors of the Residential Building and two of the Bank have also been also retrofitted.

At street level, the scheme has created a new 430m² art gallery, while a public art programme has been reintroduced to the Plaza, reviving the space’s tradition as a prominent stage for London’s creative and artistic scene. Future phases will reconfigure redundant spaces (such as removing the underground carpark to create a new subterranean gallery), improved pedestrian access to the Plaza, allowing further permeability to reinstate its intended character as a quieter, yet lively, meeting place. 

Team:
Architects and Spatial Strategists: DSDHA
Structural Engineer: Campbell Reith
Cost Consultant: Mace
Planning Consultant: DP9
Contractor: Como
Services Engineer: Sweco 
Historians: Max Risselada (TU Delft); Susannah Hagan (Westminster University); Dirk van de Heuvel (TU Delft); Ana Ábalos Ramos (Abalosllopis Arquitectos)
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