Broadcasting House - Regent Street, London, UK

Original Construction:  George Val Myer and the BBC's civil engineer, M T Tudsbery
The original interiors were the work of Raymond McGrath
The refurbishment and extension in 2009 by MJP Architects
Date Built
Opened May, 1932 - refurbished and extended in 2009
At the end of Regent Street where it becomes Portland Street
This building appears in the section of the website devoted to the 1930s because the original Broadcasting House building on Regent Street is characteristic of the period in which it was built.  BBC Radio occupied this building and Bush House on the Strand.  In the 1960s the BBC built Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush to house their television production in London.  In 2009 work began on the consolidation of BBC radio and television on one site and that involved refurbishing the Art Deco Broadcasting House and adding to it an impressive extension that is now home to both services.  In simple terms the original Broadcasting House now forms one side of a horseshoe shaped building that curves around a public piazza.

Let us begin ("Are you sitting comfortably?") by looking at the original Broadcasting House building. 

It has been given a variety of appellations including: "The Top Hat", "The New Tower of London" and, because it resembles the prow of a ship, "this battleship of modernism".  Much of the building was constructed of steel with a Portland stone cladding.  Since the steel frame would transmit sound, a central core was constructed with an outer shell of brick.  The broadcasting studios were created within this central core.  At the heart of the building is the BBC Radio Theatre which, because of it is in the centre of the building, was actually used as a shelter for BBC employees during WWII and is still in use today broadcasting radio and red button TV programs and concerts.  Whilst it has been adapted to the needs of a broadcaster in the 21st Century, it still retains many of its Art Deco features.

During the development of the new building, the foyer of the old building was restored to original splendor if you ignore the glass wall that has been added for security purposes.

A sign in Latin declares, apparently, that it is "a temple of the arts and muses”.

The original BBC logo is displayed in the mosaic floor and in the design on the entrance doors.

A statue, by Eric Gill, in the foyer depicts a person who is broadcasting seeds as the BBC broadcasts to the World.

The building has 9 floors above ground and three below.  The outside is decorated by more of Eric Gill's sculptures.  The most prominent of these is the 10 foot high statue of Prospero and Ariel which stands above the entrance.

On the building's side you can see Ariel listening to celestial music

Below:  Ariel between Wisdon and Gaiety

Ariel piping to the children.

Above and below you can see the BBC Crest between floors on the Portland Street side.  The motto reads, "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation".


Viewed from the air you can see just how huge it is.

As with the old building there was obviously a concern about traffic noise.  You can see that the designer appears to have responded by creating a significant buffer between external and internal windows.

MJP, the architects of the new extension, say this about their work, "Our largest project to date is to repair and refurbish the Grade II* listed 1930's building and to extend it substantially to accommodate staff from BBC News, Radio, Music and the World Service.  We aim to create an extremely adaptable and flexible building that inspires creative people, promotes collaborative working and provides a sympathetic working environment that attracts high-calibre employees."

"The new build component of the design comprises of 80,000sqm of production areas, studios and various staff facilities. A 4000sqm newsroom will be an exciting and theatrical workspace at the heart of the extended building. The design maximises floor space and will create a building which has very efficient net:gross floor area ratios and an excellent BREEAM rating.  Once the redevelopment is finished, Broadcasting House will contain one of the largest live news broadcast centres in the world"

Below is the finished newsroom with its elegant spiral staircases.

The roof of the original building is graced by a clock and a symbolic aerial tower.

The new wing has its own 10 metre high inverted tower of glass entitled "Breathing".  Around the tower are the words "Silence is a voice, our voice. Silence is a body, our body".  It was created by the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and it is an international memorial to reporters and crew who have died while reporting the news.  The BBC website says that, "During the hours of darkness the cone is lit so that it glows, and then every day, in tandem with the 10 o'clock news bulletin, a fine beam of light projects from its base approximately 900 metres into the night sky."

The public piazza is home to a piece of art entitled "World" created by the Canadian Mark Pimlott.  "It consists of over 750 stone flags inscribed with place names from around the world, and enhanced by elegant steel lines of longitude and latitude. In addition, there is a subtle scheme of small embedded lights and some audio installation linked to key output from the World Service."


Some other views of the building.

Below the Media Cafe

The new Reception area.

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