Compass Centre

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The Compass Centre, when it was a British Airways facility

Compass Centre is an office building on the grounds of London Heathrow Airport in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The building serves as Heathrow Airport Limited's head office.[1] Compass Centre previously served as a British Airways flight crew centre.[2]


The Compass Centre was originally conceived as speculative offices for Lynton plc, which was the property development division of Heathrow Airport Ltd. British Airways was a prospective but not necessarily a sole tenant. The airline decided to consolidate its scattered operations into the Compass Centre.[3] In August 1992 on-site construction began. The building was completed 15 months later.[4]

When London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened on 27 March 2008, British Airways staff, including crew check-in staff, relocated from the Compass Centre to Terminal 5.[5] A refurbishment of the head office was completed in September 2009, after Heathrow Airport Limited (then BAA) moved into the building.[6]

Location and design[edit]

The Compass Centre was designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, which designed the core, external works, and shell of the building. Compass Centre is alongside but slightly askew from Heathrow's northern runway, with the Northern Perimeter Road, T5 Long Stay car park and Compass Centre car park between the runway and the Compass Centre. In 1995 Penny McGuire of The Architectural Review said that "Its shining glass and bright blue clad exterior reminds you, particularly when seen glowing at night, that one of the largest and busiest airports in the world is otherwise encumbered with a really grim collection of buildings. Decent ones are a rare sight around here."[3] It was designed to house up to 800 British Airways employees. British Airways wanted a large, on-airport facility close to its operations, so it decided to use the Compass Centre.[4]

Compass Centre consists of a linear arrangement of three blocks. Each block is serviced independently and has a glass atrium with glass links in between. The design stems from a client's request for a building that could be easily divided between tenants.[3] The building can accommodate sub-letting and flexibility involving several tenants.[4] Reinforced concrete was used to construct the structural frame due to economy, fire resistance, and speed. The frame has a raked roof slab and circular columns. Glass was the primary material used to construct the shell,[3] because glass has little radar interference,[4] and in the words of McGuire, can be "acoustically efficient."[3] The design limits heat gain and solar glare, and the building environment is sound-proofed.[4]

The British Council for Offices awarded the building the "Best Delivered Workplace."[4]


  1. ^ "Contact us". Heathrow Airport Limited. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
  2. ^ "BA Recruitment." British Airways. 3 March 2006. Retrieved on 2 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e McGuire, Penny. "Northerly approach - British Airways PLC's Compass Center at the Heathrow Airport." The Architectural Review. March 1995. Retrieved on 2 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Combined Operations Centre (Compass House) Archived 29 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine." Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners. Retrieved on 2 October 2010.
  5. ^ Paylor, Anne. "T5 Prepares to Go Live." Air Transport World. 1 March 2008. Retrieved on 2 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Project: BAA Compass Centre Archived 16 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Graphic Image Solutions Ltd. Retrieved on 2 October 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°28′51″N 0°28′08″W / 51.4809°N 0.4689°W / 51.4809; -0.4689