Converting an Art Deco masterpiece
Opened in 1912, The Regent Palace Hotel was once Europe’s largest hotel. Working with The Crown Estate, Stanhope undertook substantial renovations to the site, retaining its elegant corner features and integrating a colourful faience façade whilst dramatically increasing its commercial potential to host a wide range of premium office, retail and restaurant spaces in the heart of the West End.
A fresh start
For a century, this Piccadilly site was the flagship of J Lyon’s tea houses and hotels, with five Art Deco bars created a space of luxury for all members of society. By the time it closed in 2006, the hotel and surrounding area had become dilapidated and was flagged by The Crown Estate as part of their £1 billion redevelopment of Regent St and the West End.
In 2004, the hotel was given Grade 2 status by Historic England, which meant that any conversion would have to retain many if architectural features of the building. Stanhope worked with Dixon Jones and Donald Insall Associates, architects with expertise in historic structures, to meticulously restore the building to its early 20th Century glory.
Being faithful to history
The project adapted the building’s large triangular footplate to create a truly multi-use space, where retail, residential and office space could work together. Seven floors of office space merged with a retail and restaurant areas on the ground floor, while in the Art Nouveau basement restoration work would keep key historical features of the building intact.
The original interiors of the building were designed in the early 1930s by J Lyons artistic director, Oliver Percy Bernard, and were flush with marble columns, detailed woodwork, and grand entrance halls that nodded to Beaux Arts and French Neoclassicism.
Working to Bernard’s original designs, architects Dixon Jones and Donald Insall Associates worked to try and restore and brighten these features. During construction, walls were painstakingly removed and stored off site. After work was completed, the walls were cleaned up, restored, and carefully placed back in the building, creating a dining room for the current tenant, Brassiere Zedel, that faithfully replicates the hotel at its peak at the height of jazz age London.
These restoration activities were accompanied by a range of improvements to the building’s infrastructure designed to modernise the development and establish strategic connections to other Crown Estate properties in the area. Within the building itself, animated walkways and atriums created dynamic and light interiors. In the public realm, this included the pedestrianisation of Glasshouse St and the reinstatement of Wilder Walk.
Finally, an energy centre powered by a hydrogen cell fuel was installed in the basement to service the energy requirements of numerous Crown Estate developments over a four block radius, and an underground service tunnel was constructed to connect the building with an adjacent Café Royal.
The building today
Today, AIRW1 is home to one of the largest floor plans in the whole of Soho, offering over 200,000 sq ft of rented office space. Housing three company headquarters, across three floors, the building is now home to Generation Investment Management, Telefonica and Halfords Media.
Supporting a wide range of retail units at ground level, the building is also home to the UK flagship store of American premium retail chain Whole Foods, and a number of other exciting smaller retailers, including a gentleman’s barbers, hat shop, and a variety of independent outfitters. In the basement, Brassiere Zedel have helped bring the art deco spaces back to life, with a large dining hall, two transatlantic style bars, and a cabaret and theatre venue, hosting regular concerts, and seating over 100 tables. Over a century after its creation, AirW1 remains a thriving and modern space enjoyed by the same diversity of visitors that its original proprietors dreamed of.
Mixed-use, Workplaces, Homes
Design, Build, Originate
2008 to 2012
420,000 Square Foot