Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs is currently planning to refurbish their London office at Peterborough Court, as revealed by their UK Property Director, Julia Penfold, at the Estates Gazette's recent Refurbishing and Retrofitting Offices conference. Whilst their recent strategic review of their US property portfolio led them to create a new build in New York, a similar review for London led to the decision to undertake major refurbishment. Goldman Sachs based all of their property decisions on medium-term reviews, with a 5-10 year time frame, so it appears that refurbishment is the best medium-term option for them.
The floors at Peterborough Court have already been stripped out, and the plans are being finalised. This is part of a growing trend of refurbishment in the City, particularly for building such as this, which have "good bones" - i.e. are structurally up to a high standard, but require refurbishment in order to meet modern efficiency standards and employee needs.
Julia Penfold informed delegates at the conference that the refurbishment will take place on around half of the building, and intends to increase density of desks by 30%. This way the refurbishment can be undertaken without having to relocate its staff. Goldman Sachs believe that major improvement in energy efficiency and environmental sustainability can now be made without having to resort to new build, and that the planned refurbishment will bring this building up to "almost 100%" of the energy efficiency of a new build.
They plan to raise floor-to-ceiling height, add adjustable underfloor cooling, and improve the building lighting to create a more natural feel to the light. Contrary to the generally held belief that "Goldman Sachsers" work in a glamorous setting, their London office is apparently quite un-cool at the moment, with a 1970s feel and lots of brown, retro décor - so they plan to bring it up to modern standards of trendiness. They also have done a lot of work on designing out those problems which lead to wear and tear, such as trolleys banging into walls and all those little things which can start to make a building look shabby after a few years.
A key objective is too make the space more flexible and adaptable, in order to be responsive to their corporate needs, as Goldman Sachs staff move around about twice a year. This will be achieved by making all the floor plates in the building identical and also more generic, so that they can be quickly adapted to meet different requirements of staff. So it appears that with new refurbishment techniques, major changes in office accommodation can be made without resorting to the bulldozers.