BBC plans to refurbish Maida Vale

Maida Vale studio 1 in 1951 Maida Vale studio 1 in 1951. The studios now need complete refurbishment.

The BBC is seeking a property developer to refurbish Maid Vale Studios, the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and the Radio 1 Live Lounge.

The corporation has put out a tender 'for a substantial refurbishment or redevelopment' of the studios in west London.

Lambert Smith Hampton - a property consultancy - will be helping the BBC find a property developer for the project, which the Official Journal of the European Union estimates could cost between £15m to £40m. The body values all tenders from the public sector above a certain financial threshold.

The property developer would pick up the costs of completing the building project.

In a statement, the BBC said: 'The existing studio building requires major investment to bring it up to a modern standard, so the BBC is considering its options.'

A potted history

Built in 1909, Maida Vale studios was originally the home of the Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club, seating 2650 persons and containing its own orchestra balcony. The Palace only lasted three months, however, and was acquired by the BBC in the early 1930s.

Maida Vale Studios, May 1941 A bomb seriously damaged the building in May 1941

In 1934 the skating rink was converted into studio facilities large enough to accommodate a major orchestra. Maida Vale is now the home of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, used for both performances and recordings of classical music. It can hold more than 150 musicians, a choir of over 100 and an audience of 220.

During the Second World War, Maida Vale became the standby centre of the BBC radio news service. The site had to be repaired after taking a direct hit during the London Blitz, killing a member of staff who had taken shelter there.

The building was also once home to John Peel's Radio 1 Peel Sessions from 1967 to 2004 and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop from 1958 to 1996.

Radio 1 celebrated 75 Years of Maida Vale in 2009 by exclusively playing 75 tracks recorded at the studios over the years.

The same year, the Arctic Monkeys played an exclusive live session at the studios.

Other legendary acts to visit Maida Vale include The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Dramas for Radio 3 and Radio 4, including Dr Zhivago and King Lear, have also been recorded there.

Music Box

In 2003, the BBC announced that it was going to create a new home for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Chorus, the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers, bringing the London-based performing groups together in one place for the first time.

It was to be called the Music Box and would open in 2006 on a site adjacent to White City.

The Music Box was to provide up-to-the-date 'facilities for the BBC's London-based orchestras, including two studios for rehearsal, recording and live performances with an audience capacity of up to 600 people', according to a 2003 press release.

Foreign Office Architects was appointed to design the new music centre in west London after a competitive selection process.

The project - estimated at £22m - was cancelled in 2008 and the site remains vacant.


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