In 2018, the CII will move into new offices at 21 Lombard Street, the planning for which began in early 2017.
The rationale for the move was that we needed a space that supported our manifesto aim of being relevant, modern and diverse and the existing heritage office at Aldermanbury was struggling to deliver against that aim. Our new values and behaviours were at odds with the traditional nature of the building and it therefore made sense to move on. We also wanted the CII to be known among all stakeholders for what it stood for and achieved, rather than being synonymous with a building. Our members’ views were taken into account in making the decision and it became apparent that delivery, not presence, was important to them, with the vast majority unconcerned by where we were based; having never in fact visited the offices.
Best use of members’ money
A significant investment would also have had to have been made both to maintain the building and to make it current and modern within the listing restrictions that were in place. The board took the view that this would have not been a good use of members’ money, as it would only serve the needs of a small group of members and staff and that the investment could be better used on the delivery of the CII’s strategy.
We were also delighted to have found a purchaser in the City of London that has the best interests of the building at heart, and will respect its heritage and invest for its long-term future. Some have suggested that the CII could have funded and managed this but we took the view that we were not property developers. When the building was commissioned, it was built to provide a place to work and a central go-to place for the profession. The new offices will provide a far more appropriate amenity for this purpose.
Keeping learning relevant
We have not abdicated our responsibility for the heritage of the organisation however, with the best elements of the library having been brought to the new offices. Large swathes of the library are now digitalised; and all of the library is now available in a storage facility with a fast call-back facility for members. We also have plans in place to rehome the firemark collection and the various pieces of artwork that were in the old building. Pictures of the stained-glass windows in the Great Hall will be displayed on a revolving basis in the new offices, so our heritage will never be forgotten.
Moving onwards and upwards
Our new offices at 21 Lombard Street are conveniently located for the profession, open-plan and on one floor. We were also aware that, as a not-for-profit organisation, we needed to find somewhere that was not ostentatious and overstated; we therefore signed the lease for an older building that had been modernised in a modest but modern way. Under the terms of the lease, the landlord of the building is fully responsible for its maintenance, which means that we can use members’ contributions on the outputs from our strategy not on maintaining a building. The move has enabled us to upgrade our technology, which would have been problematic and more expensive in our previous offices. We therefore have the infrastructure to support our employees and enable them to work in an agile fashion.
“We are delighted with the success of the project. Aldermanbury is in the safe hands of an organisation that is sympathetic to its history and will invest for its future”
The new offices have a 52-person seminar and town hall space, which we will use to accommodate larger gatherings. For events bigger than this, we can either use the Great Hall, other City of London venues or the plethora of spaces that are available nearby us in the City. In addition, we have a Knowledge Lounge that will be available to members, visitors and staff, where people can come to study or just meet each other, with reference library books and heritage items on display. We have also encouraged our customer service colleagues at the South Woodford offices to work at Lombard Street and vice versa, with South Woodford also being modernised in the near future.
We are delighted with the success of the project: 20 Aldermanbury is in the safe hands of an organisation that is sympathetic to its history and will invest for its future; we are free from the responsibility to invest in a building that was not fit for purpose; and most importantly we have a new home that enables us to work in line with the values and behaviours that we hold true.