River Plate House

This project was awarded Award in the New Build category at the Natural Stone Awards 1989.

The official guide said, 'In 1986 the Client, The Hammerson Group in partnership with Toisei Europe Limited, selected Architects, Kenzie Lovell Partnership, Consulting Engineers, Clarke Nicholls & Morcel and Builders, Higgs and Hill Building Limited, to produce a 200,000 square foot high quality office building.

Much of the success of this project stems from the early involvement of the Builders in the decision making process. The Client, Consultant and Builders worked together to produce the very fine appearance created in the traditional way with Portland Stone, but coping with today's regulations and the required speed of construction. The Client required the new building to blend in with the existing stone façades surrounding the old circus, stand out as on individual building of merit and to be of secure appearance enabling his intention that it be let to a financial institution be met. Kenzie Lovell's modern classical design for Finsbury Circus, using Portland Stone for the nine-storey building met all these requirements.

The rear of the site bounded onto South Place to the North where the existing façade of No. 12 South Place was to be substan ­tially retained. Hence this façade was refurbished and on additional stone faced storey to match was added. The adjacent Victorian building at No. 14 South Place, was demolished and replaced with a new building of similar materials to the original and in a sympathetic design.

The deep modelling of the new Finsbury Circus elevation meant that the steel frame was insufficient to support the weight of the massive stonework, and this resulted in the decision to separate the stonework from the frame. The load-bearing façade is self-supporting over five floors and has sliding ties fixed back to the frame at each floor level to give lateral restraint.

The curve of the Circus has been effected in the elevation by the use of facets which have been set out by computer. This helped resolve the complication of the variation in thickness of the wall and the co-ordination of stone sizes with steel frame, cavity, concrete floor and pre-cast concrete internal wall.

At the appropriate stage a number of masonry suppliers were consulted, Easton Masonry Co. (Portland) Ltd, with their works at Portland, and being able to meet the programme requirements, were selected to produce detailed working drawings, obtain, process and fix all the stone work. Being a shell and core contract, there would be no float in the overall programme for the perimeter walls and it was necessary to develop the design at the same time as the stone was quarried and procured, followed by the template making, carving and working of the stone ,so that it could be fixed immediately the structure was ready   to receive it. Very close co-operative working achieved success.

The new River Plate   project was built, including demolition of the existing buildings in 83 weeks. From excavation to completion of the shell and core, the work was carried out in 47 weeks, with Portland Stone being fixed in 24 weeks.

We believe the new Portland Stone façade enhances both the building and the circus and is truly a credit to all concerned, a demonstration that the fine art of using natural stone still exists.'

River Plate House using Portland Stone and built by Albion Stone