Why are you building a new coffee house?
In recent years RSA House has become an increasingly commercially successful venue, providing much needed revenue for the charity. However we realise that this compromised the amount of space available to meet and we want to redress that balance. We have taken on board feedback and believe this coffeehouse project will address these major concerns. We also believe the energy and collaborative spirit of the coffeehouse culture can be a great engine for driving our social change mission.
Why is it costing so much?
RSA House is made up of a mix of Grade 1 and Grade 2* listed buildings which we are adapting to modern usage. There is the added complication of these floors being underground so work has to be done on much internal plumbing and ventilation to make spaces appropriate for extended use, and to enable the much needed kitchen upgrades.
Will there still be a library?
The library will be reconfigured from its current layout, but we will be retaining all of the shelving meterage and relocating it all to level -2, where there will be a second large library room. The current workroom that runs under the pavement of John Adam Street will be extended in length. We anticipate this being a quieter area for work or small groups.
What will the opening times be and will it open at weekends?
The opening hours of the House will not change. We will open from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday (except in August when the House closes at 6pm). We will look at extending our hours when the coffeehouse is open and we can assess the demand.
Will the coffeehouse serve food?
Level -1 of the coffeehouse will be served by an all-day dining facility in the current Gerard Bar area, and a small coffee bar located at the far end of the building.
Why is the Vaults restaurant closing?
Unfortunately the Vaults restaurant does not currently break even. Once the coffeehouse reopens with its new all-day dining menu we will be looking at the demand for additional dining facilities.
When do the works start and how long will they last?
The works are currently planned to begin on January 8 2018 and we anticipate they will continue until July 2018. We will update this timeline as appropriate.
Will I be able to visit the House during the works?
Yes, although space will be limited to the ground floor. Events will continue to take place in our ground floor rooms, and the collaboration spaces will still be accessible. Please be aware that there will be noise from the lower floors due to the works taking place.
Will I be able to access the library during the works?
Unfortunately we do not have a suitable place for an interim library, so the library will not be accessible for the duration of the works. Archive material should still be available for study: please contact the archive as normal.
Will there be coffee and dining facilities available during the works?
The Gerard Bar will be unavailable during the works. We aim to provide coffee and snacks on the ground floor and will update on this when it is finalised.
Why are you investing this money in the House in London, instead of buildings outside of London?
The RSA House, located in the heart of a leading global city and centre of innovation, is a testament to the longevity and visibility of the RSA. We want to ensure the building continues to stand as a forward thinking centre for enlightenment values. We know that half the usage of the house is from Fellows who live outside London, including from other parts of the World, and therefore the development benefits more than simply those who live nearby. An investment in the RSA House is an investment in the long-term future of the RSA as it is a commercially successful building which supports the mission of the RSA. These works will help it to continue to be so.
What technology will be available in the new coffeehouse?
For the time being, our project is concentrating on opening the maximum amount of space available at levels -1 and -2 of the building. Lessons from previous building works tell us that it is better to see how a space is used before investing heavily in technology that may not prove useful in the long term. Our current communications channels and social media presence will continue to connect to our global audience and we will seek to make the most of this ever increasing reach.