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Rediff.com  » Business » A year of renovation later, Tatas' hq Bombay House throws its doors open

A year of renovation later, Tatas' hq Bombay House throws its doors open

July 29, 2018 17:44 IST

After a Rs 800 million makeover, Bombay House reopened on July 29.
The earlier dull interior with low technology has given way to a lot more colour and vibrancy, reports Shally Seth Mohile.

Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.


Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata group and emeritus chairman at the opening of the newly-refurbished Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata group, right, and Ratan Tata, emeritus chairman, at the opening of the newly-refurbished Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai, on July 29, 2018. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

A Starbucks outlet and a Tata Experience Centre will welcome visitors to the newly refurbished Bombay House.

 

The 94-year-old iconic building, the headquarters of India’s largest corporate house, the Tata group, reopened on Sunday, July 29, which also marks the 114th birth anniversary of JRD Tata and 150 years of the group.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

Bombay House building was first built by the then chairman Dorabji Tata, elder son of group founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

Close to 600 employees of Bombay House will step into a hi-tech new office that promises to have more open spaces and fewer closed offices.

The heritage building, which was shut in November 2017 for the first time, has undergone a thorough makeover of its interiors at an estimated cost of Rs 800 million, even as the façade retains the Edwardian neo-classical look.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

In 1924 Scottish architect George Wittet, who designed the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum and KEM, among other iconic buildings, designed the headquarters of the Tatas. Wittet died two years later of dysentery and is buried at the Sewri cemetery. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

Sources said the interiors boasted plenty of natural light and an open-seating arrangement -- a reflection of the cultural change that has been sweeping through the group under the leadership of Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran. Chandra, as he is popularly known, is a Tata-lifer who took over the reins of the salt-to-software group in February 2017. 

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

600 employees work in Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

Another highlight of the new building will be the kennel on the side entrance meant for canines. The stray dogs have been indispensable to Bombay House for decades, according to a source.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

One of the special additions to the project to make Bombay House glow again and up-to-date, was the kennels for the legion of stray dogs, who were made as welcome as international businessman within these portals by Ratan Tata, former chairman of the Tata group. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

Overall, the earlier dull interior with low technology has given way to a lot more colour and vibrancy. For instance, the central spine of each floor has its own digitally-controlled, Wi-Fi-enabled meeting rooms, fitted with touch screens and other gadgets. The number of offices on each floor has been reduced, encouraging open space work culture in line with modern smart offices, said another source.

The removal of ledges from top and bottom of the windows allows plenty of natural light to come on the floor, said the source.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

A Starbucks outlet and a Tata Experience Centre, which tells the Tata story from 1868, are a special feature of the sparkling new Bombay House. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

“The whole Bombay House has been going through a cultural shift. The shift also comes from the way you work,” said the source. The change is part of Chandra’s plan to give those working out of Bombay House a nicer and livelier workplace. Over the last 94 years since the building came into being, a lot of changes were made but most weren’t thought through, added the source.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

Bombay House is 94 years old and the re-opening is timed with the 114th birth anniversary of JRD Tata, another legendary chairman of the group. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

The renovation project has been executed by Brinda Somaya, founder of Somaya and Kalappa Consultant, who is no stranger to the Tata group, having designed Tata Consultancy Services’ Banyan Park campus as well as the group’s housing project.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

Bombay House is the worldwide headquarters of the Tata group which had a revenue in 2017 of US$ 100.4 billion and 695,699 employees globally. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

The iconic Bombay House building was built by the then chairman Dorabji Tata, elder son of group founder Jamsetji Tata.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman of the Tata group and emeritus chairman at the opening of the newly-refurbished Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

The earlier dull interior, with low technology, has given way to a lot more colour and vibrancy, open-plan offices, with digitally-controlled, Wi-Fi-enabled meeting rooms, fitted with touch screens and other gadgets. This is Chandra’s plan to give those working out of Bombay House a nicer and livelier workplace. Tamil Nadu-born Chandra, 56, above right, took over from Ratan Tata, above left, in 2017. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

In 1921, he bought a 21,285-sq ft prime plot in south Mumbai from the municipal corporation for Rs 36 million as the group was not able to accommodate its growing ventures at its previous office at Navsari Chambers.

The new Bombay House at Fort, south Mumbai. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani.

The renovation project was run by Brinda Somaya, founder of Somaya and Kalappa Consultant, who has done several Tata group projects. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com.

At that time, the group comprised six businesses -- textiles, steel, power, hotel, cement and a bank. In 1924, Scottish architect George Wittet designed the three-storey Bombay House. In 1942, an additional floor was added when JRD Tata became the group chairman.

Shally Seth Mohile in Mumbai
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