Lloyd’s of London could leave its iconic City of London headquarters after four decades in one of the most consequential signs yet of how companies are reassessing their need for office space.
The tower – designed by British architect Richard Rogers and known as the ‘inside-out’ building because its lifts and pipework are on the outside – has been home to the world’s oldest insurance market since it was completed in 1986.
But like other companies, Lloyd’s is reassessing its office space in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen many staff work from home.
The Covid crisis has also accelerated moves towards automation with Lloyd’s, which insures complex risks from oil rigs to footballers’ legs, increasingly shifting away from doing business on its underwriting floor.
‘As we adapt to new structures and flexible ways of working, we are continuing to carefully think about the future requirements for the spaces and services our marketplace needs,’ a spokesman said.
‘Like many other organisations, we are considering a range of options around our workspace strategy and the future leasing arrangements for Lloyd’s. We are aiming to share our plans during 2022.’
The least on the building expires in 2031 but Lloyd’s could leave in 2026 when there is a break clause.
The Grade I-listed structure was built for an estimated £75m and has been owned by Chinese insurer Ping An since it bought it for £260m in 2013.
Lloyd’s of London began in 1686 in the small coffee house of Edward Lloyd in the City.
It is now the world’s leading commercial insurance market, where complex insurance contracts ranging from catastrophe to events cancellation are agreed and underwritten.
Lloyd’s grew to dominate the shipping insurance market, a key element of Europe’s global scramble for empire, treasure and slaves, who were usually in the 18th Century included in insurance policies in the general rate for ship cargo.
Lloyd’s architect Richard Rodgers died last year at the age of 88, after a stellar career that also saw him design the Millennium Dome, the ‘Cheesegrater’ Leadenhall Building, and the the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
American architecture critic Paul Goldberger called the news ‘heartbreaking’, adding on Twitter it was ‘another huge loss for architecture in 2021. A gracious man and a glorious talent. RIP’.