Client: Walker Morris
Project value: £6,000,000
Project size: 72,000+ sq ft

 

The challenge

In 2020, the leases on Walker Morris’s two buildings are due to end. This Leeds-based law firm asked us to explore the options of staying in its current buildings and refurbishing them, or relocating to a single site.

In particular, Walker Morris wanted to create an environment that supports its values of being distinctive and innovative. As we already had a relationship with the firm, we saw that its traditional culture and working practices could conflict with this goal unless significant change was made.

 

What we did

Walker Morris had previously deferred the lease break for five years and, due to a lack of appetite for change, it was possible this might happen again. But we believed change was necessary.

The existing buildings give 85,000 sq ft of inefficient, outdated space and most of the mechanical services were reaching or beyond their end of life. We felt a move would support the sustainability of Walker Morris’s business model, and help it attract the talent and clients it was aiming for.

We began by gathering a significant amount of data and then ran a staff engagement programme. During this programme we focused on getting buy-in for change at all levels of the partnership, as well as understanding the level of change needed and the skills available internally to achieve it.

We also assessed the Leeds marketplace to find potential new buildings.

 

Results

At the end of the first year of, Walk Morris agreed on moving to Benson House. This 72,000 sq ft building will give the firm its own front door and a brand presence. It also offers the option to increase revenue by subletting around 13,000 sq ft.

By working with the developer and the landlord’s architect on the CAT A design, we were able to tailor the space for Walker Morris from the outset. And we’ve been appointed to develop the full design for a competitive tender process.

We’re also continuing to work with Walker Morris from a cultural perspective. The new space is based on a 0.8 ratio of desks to people and is fully open plan – a much more agile office environment that will demand a wholesale shift in the firm’s working culture.