Savoy Place 2.0

11 March 2013
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Savoy Place refurbishment plans

IET London: Savoy Place is due for its first thorough modernisation since the 1950s.

Savoy Place refurbishment design - second floor

The IET Board of Trustees wants to ensure that best use of the building is made for IET activities.

IET president Prof Andy Hopper with IMechE president Prof Isobel Pollack

Memorandum of Understanding: IET president Prof Andy Hopper with IMechE president Prof Isobel Pollack.

A major refurbishment project taking IET London: Savoy Place into the future is now moving into the construction phase.

The first thorough modernisation of the IET’s London headquarters since the 1950s has been approved by the Board of Trustees (BoT) at its meeting last month. These refurbishment plans will fully modernise the IET’s professional home at Savoy Place.

After considering input from Council and the Finance and Investment Committee, the refurbishment project is now moving into the detailed design and construction phase. With this in mind, the BoT is setting up an additional project to focus on the use of new, state-of-the-art facilities. The building will showcase engineering in all its breadth and depth, providing a hub of information and knowledge which will demonstrate the leading role that engineers play in wider society around the globe. The refurbishment will bring the building up to modern standards, delivering a dynamic home for engineers.

Members first

The building is to be substantially reconfigured with a new ‘Member First’ zone bringing together currently disparate facilities to promote knowledge sharing and networking. In addition, new lifts will be introduced to improve movement through the building. This, in turn, will create exhibition areas in which the IET’s heritage and the role of engineering and technology in the modern world can be promoted to people using the building, both engineers and non-engineers alike.

Additional floor space is also being created above the main lecture theatre which will be used for a new Council chamber, doubling up as a second theatre.
As well as replacing the IT infrastructure, audio-visual systems will be vital to ensure the building is fully connected, IET president Professor Andy Hopper and IMechE president Professor Isobel Pollock with the ability to stream content into, around and out of the building to those based internationally.

One of the biggest impacts on the configuration of the building will be to consolidate service and administration functions, including the kitchens, into the basement and back of the building. The front of the building can then be opened up for both the existing events portfolio, and to allow for a much more flexible use of space.

Fit for purpose

The BoT wants to ensure that best use of the building is made for IET activities and to promote the IET and engineering positively within and beyond Savoy Place. Running alongside the construction project, therefore, is a project which will focus on fulfilling the benefits of the refurbished building after its re-launch in 2015; to ensure the wider aims of the modernisation project – to promote, educate and celebrate engineering – are fully realised. As BoT vice-president and treasurer Steve Burgin commented: “[The project is] an opportunity to re-establish Savoy Place as the vibrant home of a progressive and proud Institution.”

With the project now agreed, a series of removal and relocation activities are set to begin, ahead of the expected closure for the two-year refurbishment in mid-July 2013. A project to rehouse the IET’s historically important archive material will also be initiated, including the development of a dedicated reading room in the IET’s adjacent building, Savoy Hill House.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has offered a temporary London home for the IET from mid-2013 for the duration of the two-year project at its headquarters in One Birdcage Walk.

The building will provide shared library and members facilities and this co-location also allows the two Institutions to pursue closer working for the good of the engineering profession. To this end, a new Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the IET and IMechE’s presidents, Professor Andy Hopper and Professor Isobel Pollock, pictured above.