The renovated and converted building at Helsinki Central Railway Station.

Scandic Grand Central Helsinki

NCC transformed VR Group's old administration building at Helsinki Central Station into a hotel in the Scandic Hotels chain. In addition to the alterations to the old head office, a new part was built on the north side of the building. The hotel was completed in January 2021.

VR’s old headquarters from 1909, designed by Eliel Saarinen in the Art Nouveau style, were completely refurbished and extended to create a hotel with nearly 500 rooms and conference and event facilities. The culturally significant historic building's challenging refurbishment and alteration works were carried out in collaboration with the Finnish Heritage Agency and the City of Helsinki.

Refurbishment of the 100-year-old building

The refurbishment of the building which was built in 1909 was classified as an exceptionally demanding asset. The building is also protected – protected parts include, for example, the exterior of the building, including the roofs, and internally the main lobbies, stairs, main corridors and corridors, the longest of which is 159 meters. All protection issues were reviewed regularly with the Finnish Heritage Agency.

The building services also represented a challenge. Installation of building services in the protected hotel corridors was not permitted, meaning that all the technology was routed via the rooms, hallways and bathrooms. Almost every room has a different solution. During the demolition of the heritage building's structures, surprisingly high levels of hazardous substances, such as coke slag and asbestos were also found.

To facilitate the detailed scheduling of works, the construction site was divided into eight different blocks, which in turn were divided into four floors or other areas. It was a challenge to align the schedules between the different blocks. Even though there were no major changes to the original plans, even small changes were enough to cause problems.

“A small change to the refurbishment of a hotel room becomes a major change when it applies to all 373 rooms,” says site manager Ari Tikka.

Stunning new extension facing the park

In addition to the refurbishment, a new extension was built on the north side of the property towards Kaisaniemi Park, in which 118 of the hotel's 491 rooms are located.

The technical challenges involving in building the new part included the curved shape of the foundations and that each floor has a different floor height. The floor heights of the original building get lower as you move from the bottom to the top of the building, and the floor height of the new part had to conform to this design.

Thanks to the new part, the hotel forms a stylish complex with an inner courtyard and restaurant terraces for guests in the middle of the hotel.

(Photo: VR Group, Tuomas Uusheimo)