Black Lubyanka rises again

A HUGE new building is set to loom over the famous Art Deco former Daily Express offices in Fleet Street after planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of the River Court site behind it.

The Grade II* listed building, built in 1932, sits on the corner of a block of buildings in the City of London, and was incorporated into a larger office block development to the side and behind in 2000, known as River Court. It housed Express Newspapers until 1989 when it was redeveloped and became the home of Goldman Sachs. 

HOW THE NEW BUILDING WILL LOOK (c) Planning application images

The new plans will split the building to be freestanding, away from a new office development to replace River Court. A new open arcade will be created between the old and new development. The Daily Express building will then be transformed into a public cultural destination with 'social and educational outreach' with a public roof garden.

Inside the Black Lubyanka, the existing foyer and central staircase is one of the most spectacular interior spaces, extending from the ground up to the fifth floor at present, and will be extended up to a public roof garden at the top of the building.  At the east of the ground floor lobby, lifts take visitors down to the basement, potentially for lectures or exhibitions, or up to the rooftop and cafe/restaurant.

The likely layout of the Daily Express building will be an exhibition base in the former engine rooms of the basement, the grand foyer on the ground floor, floors 2-4 for “complimentary users”, a cafe/bar and writers space on the 5th floor, another exhibition space on the 6th flor and then the roof garden.

So far so good.

To fund all this though, the building that sits to the side and behind the Daily Express building is to be demolished and replaced. The Fleet Street frontage will be a modern interpretation of the art-deco building, but the rear of the River Court building will loom over the art-deco building on Fleet Street, with a huge wrap around a staggered set of floors that will reach 21 floors above street level.

(c) Planning application images (modified to highlight new building)

As a building, the replacement River Court is well designed and fits all the modern thinking about offering roof terraces and plenty of workspaces. Anywhere else it would be an exemplary building, but the way it hugs the Daily Express building overwhelms an art-deco gem.

(c) Planning application images

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