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Old August 19th, 2013, 12:02 PM   #1
Brightondan
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The Old War Office Building redevelopment | Whitehall | U/C

From the BBC website
The former War Office building, where British leaders made plans during the two world wars and the Cold War, is to be sold.

Ministers hope the Whitehall building, in which the likes of Winston Churchill and David Lloyd-George once had offices, will sell for more than £100m.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said civil servants would move to the main Ministry of Defence (MoD) building.

He said having defence staff under one roof would save £8m a year.

The first brick of the War Office was laid in 1901 and, by its completion, the Edwardian Baroque building had used 25 million bricks and many thousands of tonnes of Portland and York stone.

Its roof boasted sculptures symbolising Peace and War, as well as Truth and Justice - and Victory.

Relatively unscathed
A parliamentary answer in April 1910 gave the full cost of the "new" War Office as just over £1.2m.

Among the secretaries of state for war who worked there in its early years were Lord Haldane, Lord Kitchener and Winston Churchill, while Lawrence of Arabia was also employed there to create maps of the Sinai region based on his earlier travels.

A young officer posted to the War Office in 1940 recalled being told there had been friction between the armed forces and civil servants - and that he must remember that "not every civil servant based there was a fifth columnist".

German bombs hit the War Office several times during World War II, killing one person, but the building was relatively unscathed.

The Old War Office under construction as troops march past (black and white)
The War Office under construction as troops march on the coronation on King Edward VII in 1902
It was refurbished in the mid-1980s and reopened in 1992, primarily as the new headquarters of the defence intelligence staffs.

Its current civil servants will move across the road to the MoD's main building next year, after which the historic building - latterly called the Old War Office - will be sold.

With more than 1,000 rooms, 2.5 miles of corridors and a central London location, it could attract interest from property developers and hotel chains, which have already bought other government property being sold off as the coalition attempts to cut costs.

The MoD has also announced plans to sell the abandoned Brompton Road Tube station, which was used as a command bunker for anti-aircraft defences during World War II.
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Old August 19th, 2013, 10:51 PM   #2
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With the cutbacks in the MoD's civilian staff, I guess they now have room for everyone under one roof.

However, I hope this isn't a short term asset sale at the expense of longer term flexibility (i.e. should the MoD's staff ever expand again, they will be left looking for central London office space to rent at no doubt high costs).
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Old August 19th, 2013, 11:25 PM   #3
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23748635
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Old August 19th, 2013, 11:46 PM   #4
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A beauty.

image hosted on flickr

Whitehall by rsinghabout, on Flickr

image hosted on flickr

War Office SW1 by Jamie Barras, on Flickr
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:13 AM   #5
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£100m seems cheap compared to some houses in the capital. If I was after a mega e xpensive house I wold get this beast for top bragging rights.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:18 AM   #6
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Should it really be sold though? it's an asset to London historically and it's beautiful too.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 04:25 AM   #7
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That's what I was thinking. Depends on who they sell it to and what they then use it for.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 04:38 AM   #8
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This is a great piece of architecture. Lets hope whoever buys it respects its facades and interior spaces when they rehabilitate it for a new use.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 10:30 AM   #9
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Let's just hope it doesn't become another commercial hotel like Admiralty Arch - a crazy and demeaning solution.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:32 PM   #10
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This is just across the road from my office.

Quote:
Originally Posted by delores View Post
Should it really be sold though? it's an asset to London historically and it's beautiful too.
Selling it won't remove it from London or make it look any different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Cat View Post
This is a great piece of architecture. Lets hope whoever buys it respects its facades and interior spaces when they rehabilitate it for a new use.
It's listed, so they'll have to.

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Originally Posted by gravesVpelli View Post
Let's just hope it doesn't become another commercial hotel like Admiralty Arch - a crazy and demeaning solution.
A hotel is the most likely outcome, like Admiralty Arch and the Metropole building / Conrinthia. I see nothing demeaning about it.

It might be short-sighted if other govt dept offices in London could relocate here - these grand Edwardian buidlings are a pain to convert to modern office use, but it can be done, and it makes sense to consolidate around Whitehall. Civil service numbers are shrinking so much, however, with the drive to get remaining staff out of London continuing also, that it doesn't seem crazy to offload this one, especially given the prices prime London real estate command right now.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 01:42 PM   #11
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Yes it’s all part of the consolidation of government offices so makes sense to sell off those surplus to requirements. I would prefer it to becoming a hotel and add a bit more life to the area and allow access to us mortals rather than it becoming another holiday home for the worlds rich to enjoy for a few weeks a year.

It’s big enough to turn over parts of the building to a museum/galleries or whatever to animate the area rather than just solely a hotel or residential block. There’s plenty of floors and spaces to combine both.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 10:00 PM   #12
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I'll buy it. I'll turn it into a nightclub.
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Old August 20th, 2013, 10:47 PM   #13
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Interesting that a mention of a museum/gallery was suggested. I always thought that the National Portrait Gallery should have taken over the Aston Webb Admiralty Arch building to allow the National Gallery to extend into the NPG premises, since the NG is so short of space. This would have made perfect sense instead of selling Admiralty Arch to a hotel consortium, which I find insipid.

Perhaps the rear half of the Old War Office (the part facing the Embankment) could become an hotel, to twin up with Metropole/Corinthia. We shall know from an eventual outcome.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 02:24 AM   #14
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I remember reading that Admiralty Arch was sold as a 99-year leasehold, and that this Old War Office building is being sold under similar terms. That's a little less crass than selling the Freehold. In any case, I am a bit upset to see family silver sold like this: there are worse government buildings without historical value which could be sold instead; they wouldn't make as much money but would keep their dignity at least.

A new home for the NPG would be a dream, but it's simply not going to happen sadly.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 06:52 AM   #15
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I like the NPG exactly as it is - Its querky for sure, though has a lot of character, and the renovation and infilling of the light court has worked very well. I'm not sure why it would want to move from such a great site.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 11:42 AM   #16
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I still think this building should be kept for the nation not a private owner, but a cultural destination would I'm sure be an incredible draw better in some ways than a hotel.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 06:35 PM   #17
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£100mn is cheap for such a large building in Central London; yet the cost to renovate the site could be double that. The better option in my view would be to transfer the site to the Crown Estate who would renovate the premises (off the governments’ books) and maximise long-term returns for the Treasury.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 11:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jake-potato View Post
£100mn is cheap for such a large building in Central London; yet the cost to renovate the site could be double that. The better option in my view would be to transfer the site to the Crown Estate who would renovate the premises (off the governments’ books) and maximise long-term returns for the Treasury.
That would make sense, I agree.
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Old August 22nd, 2013, 01:22 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Cat View Post
I like the NPG exactly as it is - Its querky for sure, though has a lot of character, and the renovation and infilling of the light court has worked very well. I'm not sure why it would want to move from such a great site.
But had it been chosen for the Admiralty Arch buildings, this would have been both practical and a new, great location on the other side of the square. The National Gallery has much of its contents in storage in the basement (of lesser quality understandably). It just doesn't have room to expand anymore after the northern extension of the 70s and the Sainsbury Wing in the 80s. But it would have made sense for the gallery to take over the NPG premises. But this is not going to happen of course.

However, to split the old War Office into two with the cultural half facing Whitehall would be good (and the Portrait Gallery could move there!)
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Old August 22nd, 2013, 01:38 PM   #20
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I still think this building should be kept for the nation not a private owner
Why? The nation isn't using it for anything special, it's just an office. It'll still be there, and might be accessible to the public (at least those willing to stump up for a drink).

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I remember reading that Admiralty Arch was sold as a 99-year leasehold, and that this Old War Office building is being sold under similar terms. That's a little less crass than selling the Freehold. In any case, I am a bit upset to see family silver sold like this: there are worse government buildings without historical value which could be sold instead; they wouldn't make as much money but would keep their dignity at least.
Likewise, what on earth are you talking about? What's 'crass' about selling a building, why is it the 'family silver', and how is it losing its 'dignity'? It's a listed building that isn't going anywhere: why does it matter who owns it?
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