The Empress State Building

Design and Construction

The Empress State Building is situated in Hammersmith and dates back to the early 1960's. The building was not used for several years and was completely refurbished in 2003. The refurbishment involved an extension of the south portion of the building and a three floor addition to the roof. The refurbishment was carried out by the international architect firm Wilkinson Eyre. In 2004, their design for the structure won an architectural award. The architects design plan consisted of modernizing the building in a sympathetic way in order to provide significant office space, as well as improving the efficiency of the building.

The logic behind the renovation was to save money by refurbishing the building, rather than completely demolishing it and rebuilding. The renovation started in 2001, and was finished in 2003 by the architects who added additional floors to the top of the structure increasing the structural height from the original 328 feet to 358 feet. In addition to refurbishment and extension to the tower, two new buildings were proposed within its curtilage.

The design calls for re-cladding the building in addition to an extension of the building for ancillary and office uses. The main idea of the plan is to construct additional floor space by building an addition and extending the building out. The design for ancillary space includes a two-storey round drum that centres on the bottom of the building. The design for distinctive Y shaped building included plans for both office space and retail space. The top of the building boasts a revolving floor with spectacular panoramic views of London. Orbit is the name of the revolving bar on the top floor. As part of the buildings redevelopment, Hall & Kay designed and installed a safety sprinkler system.

The curved facades were retained and the extension is clad in an aluminium walling system. The design that was created is an ingenious way of extending the tower and linking it to an isolated building, while maintaining the character of the structure that will be enhanced by extensions. The end result of the design is high-quality commercial space that maintained the architectural style of the original building.


Initially the building was designed by Stone, Toms & Partners. Construction started in 1959, and was completed in 1961. Originally, the building was named to honour the Empire State Building and for the Empress Hall, which previously occupied the site. For a little while the Empress Tower, was the tallest building in London. Originally the building was designed for use as a hotel, but before the building was completed the Admiralty decided they wanted to make it their headquarters. The building was once headquarters for British Intelligence.

At the time of original completion in 1961, the building had 28 floors and was the last office building in London that was built without air conditioning. In 1997, the building was vacated, and plans were to turn it back into a hotel as originally planned. However this plan was dropped in favour of offices.

Current Use

Today the Empress State Building is a stunning West London landmark tower and the 14th tallest building in London. The building is used primarily for offices. There is also a modern health and fitness centre on site and a glamorous revolving observation bar on the top floor of the building as well.

The closest London Underground Stations to the Empress State Building are West Brompton, West Kensington, Earls Court and Barons Court.