With 3,700 legal advisers in 28 offices in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Clifford Chance holds the distinction of being the world's largest law firm. For its one-million-sf Canary Wharf headquarters in London, the firm required an atmosphere and ambience that made its position in the legal pecking order perfectly clear to clients, visitors, and employees alike. As London managing partner Peter Charlton put it, "We wanted to provide our staff and clients with the best possible environment."
To say that Gensler Architecture, Design & Planning Worldwide (#1 on BD&C's Giants 300 ranking of architecture firms) took the assignment to heart would be an understatement. Working with the base-building architect, Kohn Pedersen Fox (#4 on the 2005 BD&C Giants 300 list), subcontractors, and consultants, the firm transformed the interior space into a high-rise garden of delights.
Consider this modest list of amenities: a health club with a 20-meter skylit lap pool; two squash courts; aerobic studios and a gymnasium; a 450-seat restaurant; a 247-person auditorium; and a "well-being center" with an information services area, travel office, coffee bar, and shop. Each floor also has breakout areas with vending machines and seating.
To enable Clifford Chance to better serve its clients, Gensler outfitted the 30th floor with a dining and events facility that takes full advantage of the views of Canary Wharf, Greenwich, and the Millennium Dome. The firm also designed so-called "deal zones," which can be closed off into secure spaces for those all-too-important hush-hush negotiations. Then there's the client hospitality lounge, with a bar, library, desks, private meeting rooms, business center, and showers.
By the way, did I forget to mention the prayer room?