ONE GREAT George Street's entrance will be closed off this summer as ICE headquarters' improved disabled access is installed, it was revealed last week.
For seven weeks between July and September the 'Sesame' lift will be fitted to allow wheelchair users to enter the London building by its main doorway.
The £200,000 project will see sections of the two flights of stone entrance steps cut out and two lifts installed.
Steps will then be put back into position, but at the push of a button retract to reveal the lifts (NCE 13/20 April 2006).
'In addition to the disabled access, we are looking to take advantage of the closure period to refurbish the kitchens, ' said ICE deputy director general Hugh Ferguson.
'We will also erect scaffolding to inspect the rotunda for the first time since its refurbishment in 1990 and carry out any necessary maintenance.' During the main entrance closure members and visitors will be able to access the building via the side entrance on Storey's Gate.
ICE last year commissioned architects David Bonnett Associates to develop three distinct methods of improving accessibility for disabled members and visitors.
'Our entrance from Prince's Mews consists of a lift and is perfectly functional and within disability legislation, ' said Ferguson.
'But we can't pretend it's all that welcoming - visitors have to go round the corner, off the pavement, into the road and across a cobbled street to get there.'
The Sesame lift was the only option developed for ICE that allowed disabled members to access the building from the front steps and was the favoured option of local planning authority Westminster Council (NCE 3 August 2006).
The project has been managed by cost consultant Gardiner Theobald and the lifts will be installed by contractor Killby & Gayford.