Harry Handelsman

I went to a fascinating talk by Harry Handelsman, a developer who arrived in London in the early 1990s from Germany, France and Manhattan (some combination of all three) and recognised the value of buying warehouses in what were then still cheap areas of town. He started by buying for less than £450,000 (he gave the precise figure) what became Summers Street Lofts in Clerkenwell which had been designed by the architect of the Central Court, Wimbledon as an ink factory. Then he developed Soho Lofts with a Damien Hirst in the show flat. Bankside – immediately next door to what became Tate Modern – was a new-build project by Piers Gough in a style which was 1930s industrial. Then (amazingly) he took on the development of the hotel and chambers attached to St. Pancras Hotel Station: a gigantic project which must be one of the more successful radical renovations of a historic building. Chiltern Firehouse was another smart move. And now he’s developing Manhattan Loft Gardens, a skyscraper in Stratford designed by SOM with interiors by the Parisian Studio KO. It looked like he’s got pretty impeccable design instincts.

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