The Old Admiralty Building forms part of the the backdrop to many of the nation’s most important ceremonial events, facing both the Mall and Horse Guards Parade within a highly secure area of Whitehall.
This infamous Grade II listed historical landmark has housed some of the most famous figures in history including former Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and James Bond author – and former naval intelligence officer – Ian Fleming, whose renowned ‘Room 39’ was located inside the walls during World War II.
We were contracted as architectural ironmongers to supply the door furniture in line with the listed building requirements and advise on what existing door hardware could be retained. This was our second contract for this building, having also won the contract to supply the ironmongery for the refurbishment in the late 1990’s (when it was the Foreign & Commonwealth Office).
The scope of works involved a full renovation and fit out works across the entire building, creating over 24,000 square metres of workspace over five floors for the Government’s ‘Department of International Trade’ (DIT).
As a heritage renovation project, a pre-quote door by door site survey was conducted to assess which doors could be retained and what would need to be replaced in line with both the condition of the doors and to contribute to the overall fire strategy. For example, replacing standard doors with fire doors as required.
As a grade II listed building, the changes required for fire safety compliance also had to meet the heritage requirements, with negotiations over what could and couldn’t be used for aesthetic purposes. This was further complicated by the discovery of asbestos within the door panelling meaning we were restricted to only using the existing mortice cut-outs and positioning for our locks, latches and hardware.
The project consisted of two main elements of works for the ironmongery, notably the supply of a complete range of Solid Satin Brass ironmongery to all new doors with all existing doors salvaged where possible and the existing ironmongery retained, repaired or replaced where necessary, especially if the door was being upgraded to a fire door.
Due to the heritage importance of the site, aesthetics were carefully considered. An un-lacquered Satin Brass finish was specified throughout to patinate over a period of time and complement the existing finishes.
Architectural hardware supplied: Lever handles, pull handles, door knobs, bathroom turn & releases, escutcheons, locks & latches, hinges, door closers, automatic door operators, kick plates, push plates, fire signage, door stops, flush bolts, floor sockets and door grilles.
Some elements of the original ironmongery were able to be retained, including the doorknobs and plates that we supplied as part of the re-development of the site in the late 1990s. As fire regulations have significantly changed since there was a lot to be done to existing doors that ensured they were ‘brought up to code’ and complied with the latest standards and fire regulations for building control. All existing doors were therefore fitted with fire rated hinges, the relevant intumescent and discrete hold open door closers, wired into the fire alarm that close in the event of the fire alarm sounding.
In addition to all of the standard doors, new automatic door operators were specified. These were fitted in the lower ground floor, home of the Government Art Collection, where its doors are now coloured in their branding hot pink (post fit). As a result of the resident Art collection, the building is beautifully decorated with artistic pieces, with a small selection in a public viewing gallery on rotation.
All in all, this was such a beautiful project to be involved in and revisit – given our previous involvement in the 1990s renovation. Listed buildings like this one are never straight forward and always have a few surprises; but they’re rewarding for the end result.
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