The Broadgate Exchange House in London, celebrated for its simple yet ingenious structural system that unifies design and function in the mid-century Modernist tradition, has been selected for the 2015 AIA Twenty-five Year Award. Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) and completed in 1990, the Exchange House is a recognizable presence in central London.
Recognizing architectural design of enduring significance, the Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building project that has stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years. Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards. The award will be presented to SOM in May at the AIA National Convention in Atlanta.
Exchange House, an elegant ten-story office building that spans over the merging tracks of London’s Liverpool Street Station, is located in London’s Broadgate Development. As one of the last remaining areas for development at Broadgate, SOM was able to envision an opportunity to resolve these challenges through a multi-faceted approach encompassing architecture, engineering, and masterplanning.
The structural and architectural solutions for this development were entirely intertwined, embracing the constraints of the site and using them to fuel a clear, elegant solution that dramatically overcomes the challenges beneath it. The building is suspended over the rail lines below via four, seven-story tied arches that bridge 256ft (78m), while only five percent of its footprint touches the ground. The centrally located lift core, fire stairs, and even the lobby are suspended from this bridge structure, touching the plaza beneath it out of necessity for access rather than support. By elevating the building the opportunity to bring an open space beneath was created, connecting Exchange Square to the south to Primrose Street to the north.
Exchange House is the first project in the United Kingdom and only the third international project to win the award. It is the sixth SOM project to win the award.