Former Beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Star, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and Hollywood stars Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith were all married there. But soon it will be MBA students that have their photos taken on the front steps of Old Marylebone Town Hall.
Westminster City Council and London Business School have announced that the school will take over the iconic building on a 35-year renewable contract. When the main building and annexe are opened for lectures in 2017, following a £60m refurbishment, LBS’s teaching facilities will increase by 70 per cent.
Andrew Likierman, dean of LBS, says the expansion is the biggest single move since the school took up residence in its main building in Regents Park 40 years ago. “This is something we have been very keen to do otherwise the school couldn’t expand the way we want it to.”
Such large premises in central London are very difficult to find, he adds. “This really provides for us for expansion for the next 50 years.” The school, established in 1965, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015.
The new facilities will be just six minutes walk from the school’s flagship building in Regent’s park, says the dean, who is hoping to keep the feel of a single campus, with executives and degree students studying together in all the buildings.
When the facilities are open, the school will decide which of its programmes it would like to grow – LBS teaches a portfolio of degrees programmes such as MBA, EMBA, Masters in Management, Masters in Finance and the Sloan programme, as well as open enrolment and customised short executive programmes. “We’re seeking to do more of what we are doing now, provided we can keep the quality up,” says Prof Likierman.
The school will also have to increase the number of professors that it employs – the core faculty count has just reached 100. The dean argues that as the teaching staff and the facilities grow, the search for top-notch professors will become easier.
LBS is now about to apply for planning permission to transform the town hall into modern teaching facilities. Fundraising for the new building will begin in 2013, and Prof Likierman says he would be happy to consider a naming gift as part of the package. The school will also dig into its reserves to fund the building, with a third option of taking a short-term loan.
LBS is not the only business school in London with expansion plans. Cass Business School in the City is planning to open a high-specification building dedicated to executive short programmes, which will also be home to its Executive MBA programme and will be in walking distance of the existing Cass building.
Opened in 1920, Old Marylebone Town Hall was designed by the British architect Sir Edwin Cooper and is now a Grade II-listed building. The council will continue to conduct weddings and civil partnerships on a section of the site, along with council meetings. According to Jonathan Glanz, Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Property: “In tough economic times, it is more important than ever for councils to make best use of their property assets. This agreement will not only generate an income for the council, but it will also see the multi-million pound restoration of the famous building.”
Or as Prof Likierman puts it: “This will be the only business school in the world where you can go straight from lectures to get married.”