Celebrating our 85th Anniversary: Fifteen Years in London

This year Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA) is incredibly fortunate to be celebrating 85 years in business. We are commemorating this milestone with a series of blog articles on our past, present and future. This year we also celebrate our fiftenth year since we opened our London office!  The blog below is written by Martin Gillatt, one of London's founding principals. Martin has since moved to Vancouver, BC and opened our Canadian office there. 

There comes a time when companies see potential business opportunities in faraway lands.

Europe at the turn of the century offered new and exciting markets in healthcare design and project delivery. In the UK, the ailing NHS, wracked with old, failing hospitals was in the grips of being transformed by innovative healthcare delivery concepts from the USA, using international private money.

Engaging the opportunity, SBA set sail to England and formed joint ventures with which to pursue these opportunities. Although the initial attempts did not end in success, it showed enough potential to set up a permanent office in Emerald St London in 2002.

London at that time was embracing the multi-cultural nature of Europe and SBA’s staff reflected this. Although the London office’s first project was a modest endoscopy suite at St George’s Hospital London, success in the PFI arena was soon to follow with the Gravesham Community Project, an award winning design that blended American health planning concepts with UK design and delivery, a formula that became SBA London’s USP.

London embraced multi culturalism and our staff reflected the diversity of designs that ensued. As the office grew, it relocated to a converted fire station in St John St London where people sat around a huge central ‘flying V’ shaped table. This helped build office culture, and many friendships were formed as a result.

The office became ever more successful, reaching 70 people with projects like Brierley Hill LIFT and Runwell Mental Health PFI that won national healthcare design awards with their innovative planning and modern designs. It even expanded to become a European practice following the award of the Sant Joan de Déu children’s hospital project in Barcelona, the destination of one of several ‘office outings’ that are now written into the folk law of the company.

The office even had a brush with Royalty when a project to build a new Infirmary for London’s Chelsea Pensioners (oldest continuing care facility in the world) was won in open competition amongst UK’s finest Architects. The project was patronized by the British royalty and successive ‘royals’ greeted CEO Kurt Rockstroh at subsequent Founders Days which honored the ‘in pensioners’.

And so the adventure continues to this day with the office now located in Gee St London. It is still multi-cultural, diverse and draws much strength from its roots in the USA practice. Times move on and now we wait to see if BREXT will change the core values that have for so long been at the heart of this company.

Below are pictures from when our London office first opened! 

Martin Gillatt, RIBA - Director 

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