Northwood Investors launch Covent Garden’s largest workplace

International investor and developer Northwood Investors has committed to delivering Covent Garden’s largest office development with 240,000 sq ft of workspace and 20,000 sq ft of amenity space and public realm set across ten floors in the heart of London’s culture and theatre district.

Originally designed by Richard Seifert in 1982, 90 Long Acre will be retained and transformed. Set to complete Q4 2023, the landmark building is rebranded as “The Acre”.

The building will undergo extensive repositioning, with over 80% of the original structure retained, designed to reduce the embodied carbon by half compared with new-build proposals; saving 4850 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the lifetime emissions of nearly 1000 UK citizens.

Creating one of central London’s most sustainable offices, not only will the building be all-electric and designed to be net zero in operation, Northwood Investors has also enabled The Acre’s energy to be supplied from fully renewable sources, ensuring zero fossil fuels in operation. Blue roofs for rainwater harvesting will give the building a 50% reduction in water-use compared to typical building regulations.

As a result, the building is designed to achieve the best sustainability targets including targeting an official 4.5* NABERS UK target rating, along with the highest scoring BREEAM certification ‘Outstanding’, WELL ‘Platinum’ certification, FitWel 3* and RIBA 2030 embodied carbon targets on completion in 2023.

The decision to push ahead with the speculative development comes as central London re-establishes its position as a world-leading destination for business and leisure, and signals Northwood Investors’ confidence in the market demand for high-quality workspace in the capital.

Led by development manager Platform, engineers Arup and international architect Gensler – renowned for its research into international future workplace trends – the project takes an inside-out approach, prioritising emerging concerns of sustainability, wellness and user-health in real time.

Employing an energy efficient, passive design and moving away from hermetically sealed environments which are disconnected from their surrounding, ‘The Acre” will have openable windows designed to give user control and increase natural light and ventilation.

The original Seifert design will be infilled to create “the heart”, a seven-storey activated atrium dedicated to tenant and community amenities and events to complement the best of Covent Garden’s retail, entertainment and dining offerings. “The Acre” will reactivate the building’s perimeter, giving back to Covent Garden’s public realm.

Significant outdoor space will be delivered across eight large terraces on five levels, creating green spaces with spectacular views of London’s skyline – facilitating alternative ways of working, socialising and relaxing in the office setting.

Over 350 cycling spaces and hospitality style end of journey changing facilities are designed to cater to The Acre’s position on Quietway 1, the main cycle route north to south through central London.

Richard Strachan, Senior Vice President of Asset Management at Northwood Investors said of the plans: “High quality working environments are a must for occupiers looking to offer talent an unrivalled office experience. We’ve listened to the needs of contemporary business and designed The Acre to be Covent Garden’s greenest and healthiest workplace, reducing embodied and operational carbon and placing employee wellness at its heart. This re-imagined Seifert building will have optimised office floorplates of up to 33,000 square feet, which is very rare in this world-class location in the cultural heart of London. The building will make a significant contribution to Covent Garden’s streetscape with a rich independent retail amenity.”

Valeria Segovia, Design Director and Principal at Gensler commented: “Our latest workplace survey shows us that return to the office is driven by in-person collaboration in an office which is healthy, inclusive and safe. There’s a new focus on the principles of sustainability, and companies are looking for buildings which reflect these values even more post-pandemic. Designing this building with Northwood immediately before and during COVID ensures that we are able to meet the needs of both business and the talent that’s so important to modern businesses.”

CBRE and Knight Frank have been appointed as leasing agents. The scheme is due to complete in Q4 2023.