the atrium inside Milbank by LSM, with LEDs slicing through stainless steel
Linear LEDs slice through polished stainless steel along the atrium’s stairway connecting the eighth and ninth floors, while a built-in bench supplements 375 chairs by Walter Knoll and LSM’s custom sofa.

Milbank’s London Office by LSM Makes Return to Work Worth It

In early 2020, after months of anticipation, LSM had just completed the New York headquarters of international law firm Milbank when the pandemic forced staff to Zoom from home indefinitely. Nearly two years later, as restrictions eased, LSM unveiled Milbank’s London office at 100 Liverpool Street, the net-zero, amenities-packed, mixed-use anchor of the city’s revitalized Broadgate neighborhood. This time, however, things were different. Cube culture was out; remote work and 30-second commutes were in. What would it take to make folks embrace office life again?

In a word: “joy,” according to Milbank managing partner Julian Stait. The new workplace had to signal that, “People here are at the center of what we do.” To that end, says LSM founding partner and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Debra Lehman Smith, “We tailored every inch of the 100 Liverpool space to be active, energizing, and conducive to good work. It is very different from one’s home, and that is very intentional. This is an escape from home. With every detail we thought about what would make the client want to be here.”

Previously, Milbank’s London operations comprised 54,000 square feet split between four noncontiguous floors in two adjacent buildings in the Moorgate area. Since moving 1 mile east, the office’s 140 attorneys now occupy 90,000 square feet on two inter­connected floors, with spectacular views of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

How LSM Revamped Milbank’s London Office

the top floor of Milbank by LSM, surrounded by terraces
The new London office of Milbank by LSM, which also designed the law firm’s New York head­quarters, occupies the top two floors of 100 Liverpool Street, is wrapped by terraces, and features several site-specific artworks to harmonize with the building’s curved curtain wall.

The site sits adjacent to a cross-rail hub, which appealed to Milbank’s commitment to sustainability. In fact, the entire project was in many ways a large-scale recycling effort. Hopkins Architects created the L-shape base building by connecting two old structures with a rotunda topped by a glass canopy, then stripped the tired 1980’s cladding from the original and replaced it with an undulating glazed facade. Retaining 32 percent of the original steelwork and 49 percent of the concrete significantly reduced the embodied carbon in the new structure, and 99.8 percent of waste associated with the project’s construction was diverted from landfill.

LSM amplified and echoed the curvilinear vibe throughout the interior, from custom crescent-shape sofas and dimpled workstation corners to a contrasting marble floor border that highlights the organic geometry as it snakes around the curvy floor plate. However, when it came to laying out workstations and enclosed offices along the perimeter of the long floor plate, Lehman Smith and team relied on regular geometry for efficient space planning.

The upper floors of the building were progressively stepped back to reduce massing from the fine grain of the urban fabric and create a series of planted terraces. “The terraces and the ability to work and meet within a garden setting were major factors in the selection of this site,” Milbank partner Suhrud Mehta explains. Since the law firm was the lead tenant, leasing the top two floors, eight and nine, LSM was able to tailor the building to the client’s needs while it was still under construction. That included adding and relocating doors for greater access to the rooftop English garden as well as installing an electrical infrastructure to power special outdoor events. LSM also moved building services away from key terrace views and expanded the HVAC and ventilation systems to accommodate a robust, round-the-clock food-service program.

The Office Design Features Bespoke Details

the atrium inside Milbank by LSM, with LEDs slicing through stainless steel
Linear LEDs slice through polished stainless steel along the atrium’s stairway connecting the eighth and ninth floors, while a built-in bench supplements 375 chairs by Walter Knoll and LSM’s custom sofa.

The two most dramatic bespoke moves were cutting a new slab opening for an interconnecting stairway in the atrium and then, with the help of art consultant Patrick Morey-Burrows, commissioning three large-scale, site-specific pieces by contemporary artists. “Each of them is a brilliant star!” proclaims Lehman Smith, whose signature has long been creating workplaces to embrace amazing art.

As staff and visitors enter the atrium and make their way to conference and office spaces, they pass through and around Paul Morrison’s Cyclorama. His overscale, monochromatic botanical motifs encircle the curved walls on both levels and play off the black-framed glazing in a way that is reminiscent of a Victorian garden conservatory.

Art Installations Add Visual Intrigue

Another focal point that draws circulation to key spaces is Idris Kahn’s Integration of Hope, 2021, which covers an entire rounded wall on the eighth floor. Composed of 15 layers of hand-mixed gesso—consisting of slate and marble dust, Prussian blue, and ultramarine pigments—the result is a violet tone so intense that it can only be described as sonorous. What looks like a color study from afar takes on new meaning as one draws closer and realizes that Khan has used oil paint to hand-stamp overlapping words and phrases that express his ideas about diversity and inclusion into an abstract, universal language.

Out on the terrace sits Jeppe Hein’s Sine Curve I, a sculptural installation of head-height reflective panels arranged in a meandering formation. As the viewer moves about, their own reflection bounces around, shifting the focus from themselves to the London skyline, to the office behind them, and back. It’s a good reminder to stay focused in a world that is at sometimes unfamiliar and disorienting—and to stop and smell the roses on the terrace before getting back to work.

Inside Milbank’s London Office

Italian marble flooring inside Milbank
Paul Morrison’s Cyclorama encircles both atrium levels, where flooring is Italian marble bordered by Basaltite.
Paul Morrison’s Cyclorama
An Eero Saarinen side table reflecting Morrison’s mural.
a block-print detail of Integration of Hope, 2021 by Idris Khan
Downstairs, a block-print detail of Integration of Hope, 2021 by Idris Khan.
a stainless steel-clad column inside Milbank
Reception’s polished stainless steel–clad column.
Idris Khan's Integration of Hope mural
Khan’s mural comprises 15 layers of handmade gesso.
a look inside the glass walls of Milbank by LSM
Hopkins Architects created the L-shape base building by con­necting two old structures with a rotunda topped by a glass canopy, then replacing the 1980’s cladding with a glazed fa­cade.
a perimeter conference room
A Jenny Holzer series adds color to a perimeter conference room with Graph chairs by Jehs+Laub.
a bold botanical mural inside Milbank
Morrison’s bold botanicals complement the organic, curvilinear structure.
a meeting room with chairs surrounding a circular table
A stretched ceiling caps a meeting room with Eames Aluminum Group chairs around a customized Logan table by Andreas Störiko.
a breakout space inside Milbank
Theodore Waddell’s 713 table stands in a breakout space between conference rooms defined by demountable glass partitions.
the Sine Curve I installation by Jeppe Hein on the terrace of Milbank
Sine Curve I by Jeppe Hein enlivens the terrace.
stairs rise through the atrium of Milbank in London
LSM’s slab cut between floors allowing for the custom stair.
an office along the perimeter of Milbank's building
An office along the perimeter.
inverted corners of adjustable workstations come together
Inverted corners of custom adjust­able workstations upholstered in leatherlike Ultraleather.
a workstation area inside Milbank with panel walls to control the acoustics
To control acoustics in the office area, Ultraleather panels walls and carpet tile is CE-, GUT-, and Green Label Plus–certified.
LSM: rebecca montesi; mario degisi; yun gui; donnie morphy; mark andre; evie soileau; shahram ameryoun; james black mcleish
fisher marantz stone: lighting consultant
art source: art consultant
akt ii: struc­tural engineer
hilson moran: mep
unifor: millwork
specialist joinery group: metalwork
structure tone: general contractor
spinneybeck: chair, sofa upholstery (atrium)
knoll: side table
wilkhahn: chairs (conference room), table (meeting room)
quadrant: carpet (conference room, meeting room)
newmat: ceilings
mechoshade: paneling
cassina: table (breakout)
interstuhl: chair (office)
vorwerk: carpet tile (office area)
sas: ceiling system
Ultrafabrics: ultraleather
campo­longhi: flooring
ergonom: furniture supplier
dulux: paint

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