David Adjaye beats A-list to win prime West End redevelopment

Resurgent practice sees off stellar opposition including Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry and Eric Parry to land Ritz-facing revamp.

David Adjaye has seen off Rem Koolhaas’ practice OMA, Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry and Eric Parry to win a major contest to overhaul a prime site in central London.

The architect was chosen ahead of the stellar shortlist by emerging development company Crosstree Real Estate Partners for the hush-hush, mixed-use scheme opposite The Ritz hotel in Piccadilly.

The project, which will replace an existing building between Berkeley Street and Dover Street, together with the Holiday Inn Mayfair, is one of the biggest in the UK for Adjaye Associates to date.

The other large-scale London development on the practice’s books is the £100 million Hackney Fashion Hub – although Adjaye is also working in the capital on various private residential projects, a shop for Roksanda Ilinčić and a new gallery for Marian Goodman.

Adjaye’s company nearly folded in 2009. It has since more than doubled in size, with a workforce of 86 and offices in London, Berlin, New York and Accra.

The practice has been particularly successful in the USA and is working on the conversion of a defunct Washington heating plant into 80 flats and the $500 million National Museum of African American History & Culture at the Smithsonian.

Crosstree’s Piccadilly scheme has an estimated value of £600 million. The company was set up in 2011 with around £500 million of backing from the Bertarelli family, the Swiss-Italian pharmaceutical dynasty.

After buying 1-3 Berkeley Street in December 2011, Crosstree went on to snap up the neighbouring 48 Dover Street for £83.5 million from London Asset Management in June 2013.

Neither Crosstree nor David Adjaye was available for comment.

30 January 2014 | Richard Waite | Architects' Journal