Heatherwick Studio is transforming London’s BT Tower into a hotel

Since 1964, the BT Tower has cast thin shadows over Fitzrovia, London; akin to Berlin’s Fernsehturm or Moscow’s Ostankino Tower. For decades, the 620-foot-tall space needle has relayed phone calls, messages, and television signals for consumers in the U.K. with 20th century technology that’s since been made obsolete by BT’s fixed and mobile networks, and cloud-based platforms.

Thanks to recent innovations in communications tech, BT is downsizing. Now, Heatherwick Studio is slated to repurpose BT Tower into a swanky hotel alongside MCR, the third largest hotel owner-operator in the U.S.

“My team and I are thrilled to partner with MCR to reimagine the BT Tower,” said Thomas Heatherwick, founder and design director of Heatherwick Studio. “This is an extraordinary building and an amazing opportunity to bring it back to life. We’re excited at the prospect of working with Fitzrovia’s residents and with many thousands of Londoners, to repurpose this important piece of the city’s living heritage.” 

View from Conway Street (Doyle of London/Flickr/CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

BT Tower is currently listed as Grade II. After it was first built, the skyscraper beat out the Millbank Tower as London’s tallest structure. (BT Tower held that title until 1980 when it was surpassed by the NatWest Tower.) Until 1971, BT Tower’s revolving top floor had a restaurant open to the public. BT Group has operated the building since 1984, and regularly hosted corporate and charity events in the former restaurant area. The needles iconic “infoband” screen has regularly displayed messages for all of London to see.

MCR purchased the tower from BT for $347.6 million (£275 million). Today, MCR owns close to 150 hotels, including Eero Saarinen’s TWA Hotel in New York, the Gramercy Park Hotel, and the High Line Hotel. “We are proud to become owners and custodians of the iconic BT Tower,” said Tyler Morse, MCR’s CEO and owner, in a statement. “We will take our time to carefully develop proposals that respect the London landmark’s rich history and open the building for everyone to enjoy.” 

Officials note that it will take a few years for BT employees to vacate the premises, Heatherwick Studio noted, but during that time; the architects will work with MCR to redesign the space-age spectacle into a luxury hotel. “We see many parallels between the TWA Hotel and the BT Tower,” Morse elaborated. “Both are world-renowned, groundbreaking pieces of architecture. It’s been a privilege to adapt the TWA Flight Center into new use for future generations, as it will be the BT Tower.” 

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