78 St James’s Street is a unique office refurbishment in the heart of London’s St James’s. With previous incarnations as a gentlemen’s club and HQ of HSBC, it has now been converted into a modern, multi-occupancy prime office development by main contractor Mace working with architects Squire and Partners for developer BentallGreenOak.
Situated in one of London’s prime locations on the corner of St James’s and Little St James’s Street, the building has a 2001 rear extension as well as the original 1841 structure. The historic building includes intricately detailed saloons, a drawing room and gallery, and now features Grade A office accommodation on floors of up to 18,500 sq ft and with clear heights of 2.8m.
The challenge for the developer and architect was to convert a Grade II listed Victorian building into Grade A commercial space, fit for 21st century working, while retaining the building’s magnificent fabric. Having worked together on high profile central London projects for over a decade, Squire & Partners teamed up again with Franchi to deliver the full architectural ironmongery package for the commercial space, including door furniture, concealed hinges and door closers, to compliment the building’s design scheme and historic decoration.
However, having agreed the specification schedule initially in 2019, the project team were faced with a massive challenge in the spring of 2020 in the shape of the Covid 19 pandemic. This required a rethink on finishes with the imperative to reduce transmission of the virus through surfaces found in properties. Franchi would need to revisit the previously agreed suite of black PVD door furniture.
Franchi responded to the challenge by proposing an antimicrobial material called Cupronickel. Cupronickel is a copper alloy, silver in colour, that is naturally antimicrobial thanks to its 70% copper content, without the need for coatings or treatments. It can significantly reduce the risk of spreading infection through touchpoints in buildings, like door handles. Furthermore, the finish of Cupronickel is very similar to stainless steel, brushed or polished, meaning the aesthetic of the scheme would not be compromised.
Franchi’s Specifications team worked closely with Squire & Partners to produce bespoke lever handle designs - in itself a complex process - for all internal and entrance doors, made with Cupronickel. This attention to detail typifies both the quality of the outstanding design by Squire & Partners, and Franchi’s ability to adapt quickly to meet the needs of its clients.