Bonhams have unveiled their new £30m headquarters at 101 New Bond Street, laying claim to the title of the world’s top saleroom complex.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson was on hand at
last Thursday night's opening party to herald chairman Robert
Brooks' vision, shared with architect Alex Lifschutz, as a beacon
for business in London.
Congratulating Mr Brooks and the architects
on an "absolutely beautiful building", he praised Bonhams for
"bringing jobs and growth, investment and renown to our city",
making it the "leading cultural, artistic and auctioneering capital
of the world".
Delivered on time and on budget - as the
auction house reaffirmed - the bespoke facilities boast three major
saleroom spaces, each stacked on top of the other, at the heart of
Pass through the narrow Bond Street entrance
now and what was a funnel-like corridor before has been transformed
into a light-filled atrium five storeys and 18.5 metres high. This
leads to the new reception whose backdrop is a glass wall that
reveals the double-floor height of the 235 sq m main auction space
of the New Bond Street Saleroom, as it has been named.
A mezzanine-level glass-walled boardroom,
dubbed the Sky Box, floats above the reception desk, offering VIP
bidders (or sellers) a private gallery with clear views across the
No expense has been spared in creating the
right ambience, with atmospheric and temperature controls partnered
with the latest LED lighting and security fixtures.
Structural beams enable the hanging and
hoisting of heavy artworks and the salerooms' raised, engineered
oak floors have been designed to take the weight of major works of
sculpture - monumental works by Henry Moore are clearly what Mr
Brooks has in mind. There are also large modular video screens and
cameras to provide information to the audience in the auction
spaces and convey the drama of a live auction to remote
The building's three passenger lifts rise in
glazed shafts that double up as the west-facing exterior windows of
the building overlooking Haunch of Venison Yard. They filter
natural light directly into the salerooms, with the option of doors
and computer-controlled blinds to block out that light to change
the mood of the rooms when appropriate.
Haunch of Venison Yard will enclose a new
landscaped courtyard served by a café and brasserie - to be opened
next year - in a spur building that will be used as an outdoor
space for art and events and dining in the evening.
"I wanted a feeling of space and I wanted to
be able to create the right atmosphere - to change the lighting,
adjust the temperature, ensure state-of-the-art fresh-air
circulation - and we can do all that at the touch of a button,"
said Mr Brooks. "The hallmark of the whole concept has been
versatility. I insisted upon an auction house for the 21st century
and I'm very confident that's what Alex and his team have
In the end, as Mr Brooks reminded us, this
is all about the client experience.
The build may have been a labour of love for
him, but it is also about competing with Christie's and Sotheby's
for the cream of the market's top end in Contemporary, Modern and
Impressionist art, as well as jewellery.
Realising that ambition will doubtless be
his, and chief executive Matthew Girling's main focus for the
Meanwhile architects Lifschutz Davidson
Sandilands have clearly impressed him: Mr Brooks has now
commissioned them to redesign Bonhams' headquarters in New York and
• Saleroom 1:265 sqm, double-height space
level with Haunch of Venison Yard
• The New Bond Street Saleroom:235 sq m,
double-height space level with New Bond Street
• Saleroom 2:the largest at 305 sq m, it sits on the second
floor. Each saleroom can be divided up into more intimate spaces
See ATG issue 2116 for an exclusive interview with Bonhams Chief
Executive Matthew Girling.