Designed by Ralph Erskine, the Ark is a 10-storey copper and glass office block located at 201 Talgarth Road, overlooking the Hammersmith flyover. So called for its shape, the Ark was completed in 1992 but initially failed to find a tenant after the Swedish company that comissioned its construction ran into financial difficulties. The drinks and media conglomerate Seagram leased the Ark as its UK headquarters from 1996 until the business’s demise in 2000.
German real estate group Deka bought the Ark in 1997 for £43 million and sold it in 2006 for £49.5 million – not a remarkable profit. The building had originally been touted as pioneering the concept of ‘the office as a community’ but it was internally reconfigured at great cost in 2008, doing away with its central ‘village’ to increase the lettable floor area.
Having remained empty for much of its existence despite attempts to market it for both single and multiple tenancy, the Ark has been variously described as a white elephant and an albatross (neither of which were mentioned in Noah’s inventory).
Primary occupiers and owners General Electric put the Ark on the market in September 2012 for £79 million. A year later it was sold to Citibank, on behalf of unidentified private investors.
Press Gazette reported in October 2019 that Associated Newspapers “has its eye on The Ark building”, adding that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday could leave Kensington’s Northcliffe House for Hammersmith by 2023, according to sources. However, there seemed to be no sign of this happening as of November 2022.
In 2022/23 the building was stripped back to the shell and core and then refurbished. The project also included reconfigured landscaping to create new pathways surrounded by stone seating, shrubbery and paving.