200 Grays Inn Road—A London Powerhouse of Creativity

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group discusses the major refurbishment of London’s 200 Grays Inn Road, while respecting the original design intent and meeting the demands of modern tenants.

Home to the Independent Television News (ITN), ITV (television channel), and Warner Bros, the design of 200 Grays Inn Road in London is the work of celebrated architect Sir Norman Foster, who is world-renowned for his sleek modern designs of steel and glass. His legacy includes global landmarks such as London’s 30 St Mary Axe, popularly known as the Gherkin, the Hong Kong International Airport, and the Deutsche Bank Place in Sydney, Australia; and 200 Grays Inn Road reflects this caliber. The challenge for the owner, architect, and Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group was to modernize the fitout to ensure original design intent while not halting the 24/7 operations of Britain’s largest independent news broadcaster.

Although built in 1990, the building was futureproofed by architect firm Foster + Partners in an era before futureproofing was an important consideration. The design included floor-to-ceiling heights that are taller than the norm today. The design also includes structural support columns that are further apart—enabling the team to fully exploit the positive facets of the original design. The relationship between the architecture and the engineering design has been key in the success of this iconic building.

Upon embarking on the refurbishment, the surprise discovery of a coffered slab was a game-changer. Tetra Tech decided to expose the soffit to feature the ceiling and showcase exposed services throughout. This meant revising the entire engineering services strategy by moving the mechanical services to the outer extremities of the building and opting for a displacement system for ventilation and cooling. This opened the rawness of the building and the honesty that accompanies the structure—the air conditioning and the tactile nature of the space that the occupants now understand and relate to.

Work was staged around the 24/7 operations of ITN—Britain’s largest broadcaster—with all teams working in collaboration to clear the high-level slab of existing, unnecessary services. It was also crucial to reduce the noise and vibration being transferred into broadcasting areas within the building.

Simple but effective measures were employed to address the sustainability aspirations of the asset owner. An active glazed curtain walling system was installed to reduce the U-value. A lower energy LED lighting system was installed to minimize waste heat and energy usage. This worked in harmony with the displacement solution and the cavity façade systems to deliver a holistic, energy-efficient fitout.

The result is a stylish tribute to the original design, which accentuates the previously hidden features of the building and offers futureproofing for decades to come.