Red oak takes centre stage in Bloomberg’s new European HQ

Red Oak is everywhere in Bloomberg’s new European headquarters. Designed by Foster + Partners, the dramatic lobby features a dizzying 1,858sqm of cladding while 37,160sqm of the material spreads out beneath your feet. The multi-purpose room takes up another 1350cbm of red oak, here used in the form of glulam.

The ‘Vortex’ features a U.S. red oak cladded arch. Photo credit: Foster + Partners and Nigel Young


Interior staircase made of red oak. Photo credit: Foster + Partners and James Newton

So how did so much wood end up in the media colossus’ office?

Project Architect Michael Jones recalled [Bloomberg] wanted something “bespoke and tailored to the way they operate.”

On his part, sustainability considerations let him to timber. (The office scored a record BREEAM rating of 98.5 per cent.)

In the end, red oak was chosen because it was “a species with warmth that would mellow and mature with age,” he added.

Flooring in red oak

Common area 

With so much wood, so much could go wrong, but the technical challenges have been overcome—such as micro-perforating the lobby’s vertical cladding to absorb sound. Individual flooring boards can also be lifted and refitted at will, a solution that prevents creaking. Footsteps are also deadened by an additional acoustic layer between board and access floor.

“Businesses now want their buildings to have a different sense of personality and be more responsive to people who work in them,” Jones said in hindsight. “Bloomberg loves the result, so do we.”