Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Urban Space Man

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Urban Space Man

Article excerpt

Byline: FAY SWEET

A DECADE ago the Manhattan Loft Corporation pulled off a spectacular double coup when it simultaneously made its debut in London and an indelible mark on the city: it delivered loft living to the capital.

"We started by converting an Art Deco warehouse in Summers Street in Clerkenwell - and that was before anyone, except the locals, had even heard of the place," says MLC's supremo, Harry Handelsman. Today, Clerkenwell is very firmly on the map, having grown from one of the scruffiest parts of town to become among its most fashionable and pricey.

Since then, too, with major developments such as Soho Lofts, Bankside Lofts and The Factory in Shepherdess Walk, Munich-born Handelsman has demonstrated his unerringly sensitive nose for residential potential. Now MLC is poised to deliver a similar double whammy on the office market. "I'm not bored with lofts, but see an opportunity to take our experience in residential development and try it in an area with new challenges, and the office is an obvious next step," says Handelsman. The company - part of a consortium - has been working on more than a dozen commercial developments around the capital; the space it has created is about to come on stream.

Handelsman says: "Just as in the residential schemes, we look for great buildings and interesting locations, ignore what the standard approach might be and always try to add something special. We want to add personality to people's offices, and it's not about spending lots more money than other developers or charging higher rents, it is about spending money in different ways, using beautiful materials, adding the unexpected, creating wonderful reception areas."

The first office project to come to fruition is Bankside Central in Southwark Street, a short stroll from Tate Modern and the landmark Bankside Lofts with their distinctive bright yellow circular tower - both projects are designed by the i r r e p r e s s i b l e architect Piers Gough. Bankside Central is a funky reworking of a dreary 40,000sq ft, 1960s office block (they are in plentiful supply along this street), with primary-coloured windows and a top floor that leans over into the road. …

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