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The redevelopment of this tired 1970s building next to Reading station has created an elegant new landmark for the town centre. We stripped the building back to its frame, added four storeys and squared off the chamfered corners, a technically challenging process which required the integration of architecture and structural engineering design.
The re-engineering of Thames Tower has created a new landmark for Reading. What was a tired, stumpy and outdated 1970s office block has been reinvigorated into a contemporary, elegant office building.
Taking Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York – one of the world’s first skyscrapers – as inspiration, the scheme saw the original building stripped back to its structural frame and reclad in high quality terracotta, the dark red of which takes cues from the surrounding 19th century brick buildings of the town centre.
The floorplates have been extended and four floors added, creating an additional 62,000sqft of internal space. This provided considerable structural challenges, overcome by the introduction of new steel columns, strengthening the existing columns and the use of composite cellular beams in the upper floors, helping keep the weight of the steel to a minimum.
Externally a double height colonnade runs around the north and east facades, giving the building a base and ensuring the entrances have additional presence at street level. At the top, a double-height window detail crowns the building. The chamfered corners of the existing building have been removed and the use of two types of terracotta tile – one flat-faced, the other fluted – have added detail and accentuate the height of the building.
Internally, modern, flexible workspace has been created to appeal to a wide range of occupiers, with generous floor-to-soffit heights of 3.1m on 1st–10th floors, 3.7m on 11th–13th floors and 4.2m on the 14th floor.
A 4,000sqft roof terrace and ‘skylounge’ provide 360 degree views over the Thames Valley, creating an amenity and events space and promoting collaborative working. The ground floor double height reception area also houses co-working and meeting space.
A creative community engagement programme, which has included turning the development into a High Striker fairground game, during the ‘Light up Reading’ Christmas Festivities. The refurbishment also hosted other community events, including coffee giveaways and providing event space for the University of Reading and local businesses. This programme has helped embed the building – which had been empty for some time – back into the town centre.
“dn-a’s bold designs have transformed a tired 1970s office block, creating a landmark office building equal to anything in central London. Developed speculatively, Thames Tower is attracting a great range of occupiers, testament to the quality of the workspace and the vision and hard work of all involved.” James Silver, Landid Property