Letter: Don't damn Lloyd's tower before you've seen inside

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The Independent Online
IN HIS article 'Lloyd's counts the cost of keeping 'The Espresso Machine' sweet' (6 June) Jay Thompson isolates the cost of maintenance and repair of the Lloyd's Insurance Market from all other criteria to attack the technological sophistication of the building. The article states that maintenance costs Lloyd's 50 per cent more than it would in 'less sophisticated premises', but fails to source that statistic or justify the relevance of the comparison.

The subject of value is broader and more complex than Mr Thompson suggests. Any meaningful conclusions would require a detailed audit of all running costs and take into consideration the life span of the building, its energy efficiency, flexibility and, most critically, its ability to satisfy a highly individual client brief. Its performance would then need to be judged against a comparable building.

Lloyd's is not a standard office building but a dual-function building capable of housing a 10-storey multi-level insurance market with a population eight times that of most office buildings.

It was designed with its cores on the exterior to create the large, unobstructed floors on the interior which allow the Market to expand or contract within the building and maintenance to be carried out without disruption.

The Lloyd's of London Insurance Market has been in four buildings this century of which the 1928 and 1958 buildings were purpose-built but not designed to accommodate an expansion of the Market. The cost penalty paid by Lloyd's for this lack of flexibility was one demolition, three reconstructions and three relocations of the Market.

In 1980 it was accepted by the Committee of Lloyd's that the future size of the Market could not be predicted and that flexibility should be the driving concept behind the design of the new building. Since 1980 the Market first doubled in size but is now unexpectedly contracting. Today's excess Market space is being rapidly converted into lettable office space at little cost and without the disruption associated with major refurbishment.

Philip Gumuchdjian

Richard Rogers Partnership

London W6