BBC Bush House

A key aspect to the transformation of the former BBC World Service buildings to form the new Aldwych Quarter redevelopment has been the restoration and replacement of the ageing steel window frames.

The Bush House refurbishment has transformed the 90-year old property while maintaining its architectural integrity, especially in respect of its external elevations with their distinctive steel fenestration pattern.  The project has been undertaken by main contractor, ISG, with John Robertson Architects being responsible for the design work.

ASWS’ involvement extended to stripping down, repairing worn sections, refitting ironmongery and generally overhauling over 1000 windows across three of the four blocks which comprise Aldwych Quarter, Centre Block, North-East Wing and South West Wing.

Typical window sizes tackled were 2230 x 1065 mm wide, while in the North-East Wing the frame material switched from steel to bronze; and all the glazing for the Centre Block had to be reproduced with lead cames. A handful of windows also had to be reproduced in W40 sections due to the extent of the corrosion suffered down the decades.

As mentioned above, Centre Block required the replication and manufacture of nearly 750 leaded lights. We also polished over 6000 pieces of ironmongery over the three blocks.

The Project Director for John Robertson Architects, Mr Simon White, added: “The original designs by American architects, Helmle & Corbett, were concerned more with the classical appearance of the buildings than with standardisation and, although only the Centre Block is Grade II Listed, the whole complex sits within the Strand Conservation Area so our decision to proceed with restoring the windows rather than replacing them was a balance of heritage and budgetary constraints. There have been issues due to the multiplicity of window types and the accumulation of old paint puts on the frames, but we have still been able to achieve a category A fit-out standard for letting purposes.”