In July, 2008, Hassell made a bold shift. After more than 70 years, the traditionally architecture-led practice chose an interior designer to be its Managing Director.
Robert Backhouse’s appointment marked a radical shift for Hassell. While the practice had always offered architecture, interior architecture, landscape and master planning expertise, Backhouse was the driving force behind Hassell’s transition to becoming a truly integrated, global design house.
He, in partnership with Hassell’s board and senior leadership team, led a strategy that re-aligned the business. It was focused on bringing together the world’s best design talent, strategists and researchers to deliver on a commitment to create places people love.
During the following decade, the practice has built on this position, making considered acquisitions, including award-winning hospitality design practice, Distillery, in Singapore and London-based experience master planners, FreeState, and entering new geographies, including the UK in 2011 and the United States in 2017.
It was the completion of Sky Central in west London that cemented Hassell’s position as one of the most exciting and progressive entrants to the highly competitive UK market. Within one year of opening, the 45,000 sq m workplace secured more than nine awards, including Large Commercial Interiors Project of the Year at Mixology 2017, and ‘Best of the Best’ 2017 at the National BCO Awards.
Working with architects, PLP, Hassell brought a human-scale to Sky Central’s vast 14,000 sq m floorplates and delivered an agile workplace for 3,500 people that has enabled Sky to remain responsive in an increasingly complex environment.
Catherine van der Heide, Senior Associate