Commercial Award Commended

Commended: Bonhams Headquarters, London. Entrants: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands; Colorminium

A glazed lift wall fronts the new Bonhams building in the Haunch of Venison Yard.
A glazed lift wall fronts the new Bonhams building in the Haunch of Venison Yard. · Credit: Hufton & Crow

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands had the tricky task of consolidating a hotch-potch of seven buildings into a coherent new international headquarters for auctioneer Bonhams in the heart of Mayfair. As part of the £30m project, the architect retained two buildings – the listed 1936 Blenstock House to the north of the site and 101 New Bond Street – and created an entirely new building by redeveloping five more Bonhams properties to the south overlooking Haunch of Venison Yard. Colorminium was specialist contractor for this complex project.

Schueco FW 60+ SG system was a key part of this new element, forming a distinctive wall of glazed lift shafts on the Yard elevation. Colorminium reinforced the transoms with steel to cope with the glass weight, with structural cleats taking the loads back to the mullions and onto the adjacent structure. This elevation allows daylight through to the three salerooms behind and was detailed to achieve a precise and engineered appearance that expresses the modern face of Bonhams, while referring back to different ages in its history, says Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

‘Making the entry facade out of lifts is very, very clever and not at all easy to achieve,’ said judging chair Hugh Pearman.

The composition of the lift shaft elevation recalls the tripartite glazing of a Victorian building that previously occupied the site. In addition, vertical stretches of Portland-coloured precast concrete between the lift shafts refer to the Victorian stonework of the retained Bonhams building on New Bond Street. These are combined with horizontal terracotta ‘baguettes’ which form distinctive brises-soleil over the glazing and soften the verticality of the lift shafts. The baguettes’ deep red colour evokes the Art Deco faience tiling of another Bonhams building, the Blenheim Street entrance of Blenstock House.

‘We looked at the two existing facades and took what references we could for the third, new building,’ said Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands project director Martin Kiefer.

Each baguette is supported on a split, stainless steel casting of matching diameter. The fixings are screwed to a bespoke, tapering aluminium extrusion with concealed bracketry off the primary curtain walling mullion. This extrusion for the window reveals was crucial to achieve the desired crisp finish.
Schueco ADS 65 HD pivot entrance doors were used within the lift elevation. For the adjoining spur building that runs alongside the Yard, Colorminium devised an alternative to the unitised system originally specified by using Schueco FW 50+ SG flush stick work curtain walling with FR 60 fire rated glazing.

The new headquarters incorporates offices, salerooms of double and single height, and warehousing. As well as conservation area considerations and complex party wall issues, the design team had to contend with the construction of a Crossrail station below the site. When Crossrail works are complete, the yard will become an outdoor space for art overlooked by the Bonhams restaurant and bar.

Judges were impressed with both the harmonious integration of the various buildings and the precise detailing.

‘It’s an amazing transformation for Bonhams… a most elegant solution that is very crisply detailed,’ said judge Jo Bacon.

Client: Bonhams
Architect: Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands
Structural engineer: AKT II
Main contractor: Knight Harwood
Specialist contractor: Colorminium
Mechanical and electrical: Mott Macdonald
Quantity surveyor: Gardiner & Theobald