RESToring Harrod's Majestic Grand Hall

The Harrod's Department Store in London is arguably the most famous department store in the world.
22 December, 2016
Now – for the first time since 1939 – Harrod's majestic grand hall entrance has been completely restored.
The escalator hall in its six-story atrium has always been the main entrance, and now hearkens back to its original glory with previously covered-up original windows returned to the architecture and the glass domes roof restored to perfection. The improvements also include the original Edwardian staircase.

"This stunning escalator hall has enhanced the customer experience and reflects the original beauty of the Knightsbridge store while forming part of the new architectural heritage for Harrods," said Martin Illingworth, director of store development for Harrod's.
A £20 million budget for the project meant that the art-deco building, with its chandeliers and white marble floors and walls, would be ready in time for the busiest of the shopping and gift-giving season.

Central to the hall are 16 sets of double escalators that are faithful to the vision of original architect John Harvey, and take their inspiration from the old escalators at the Hans Crescent entrance decades ago.

Those escalators are all restored in cast and pressed aluminium, in order to capture the original sense of sculpture – not just function – that the elegance of Harrod's, in the Knightsbridge district, long enjoyed.
The aluminium is the same material that Harvey used, though Harrod's had to dig a new foundation to support the renovated escalators. Their cladding in nickel-bronze completes the rich updated look.

According to the BBC, the building has more than 90,000 square meters of space, and a storied history that includes both its retail and cultural successes, and its setbacks as a result of fire or financial woes.
Over the years, layers and layers of technology or regulation or just bits of clutter were added and you sort of forgot the identity of the space as it should be. It's a grand entrance; it's about the arrival of the customers and to help them navigate through the store. It was designed to be a very grand entrance and the new hall is a return to that grandeur.
Project architect Regine Kandan
Make Architects
Harrod's own website celebrates a history dating back to 1849, when it began as a modest tea room that sold groceries. Charles Henry Harrod employed two assistants and a messenger boy in those years, and the building's resonance with the British spans everything from its commitment to the World War II effort, when it stopped selling luxury goods to make parachutes and bomber parts, to its exotic pets.
Today, the store is owned by Qatar Holding since its 2010 acquisition, after the years when the Al Fayed family owned it. They introduced the Egyptian Room, as well as a memorial to Princess Diana after her death in the company of Dodi Al Fayed.

The refurbished escalators in the grand hall lead to merchandise on seven floors, as well as a spa, bank, restaurants and other personal services. They include an interior design service called The Studio, but for a project this expansive, Harrod's called on the Make Architecture team to complete the work.
Banner image: Make Architects