Built by American businessman Irving T Bush and designed by US architect Harvey W Corbett in 1919, its original function was to be an international trade centre with exhibition galleries, shops, conference rooms, reference libraries, a small theatre, badminton court, cinema, swimming-pool, club and restaurant. Bush House has a 100-foot tall arch facing north, up Kingsway, crowned by a sculpture of figures of Britain and America united in friendship, and a famous inscription over the doorway, ‘To the friendship of the English Speaking Peoples’.
In 1941 Bush House became the home of the BBC World Service, the world’s largest international broadcaster. Communicating at one point in over 40 languages with over 200 million listeners all round the world, the World Service has been described as ‘a sort of United Nations of broadcasting’. It has represented the voice of Great Britain abroad and provided a sometimes-crucial source of balanced information to people in countries under censorship of different kinds.
Among the famous broadcasts from the building are some of those of General De Gaulle to the Free French and speeches of Winston Churchill during World War 2; talks by George Orwell (Eric Blair) who was a producer with the BBC Eastern Service between 1941 and 1943, and Paul McCartney interviewed live on the Russian Service during the Cold War.
King's Business School moved into Bush House in August 2017, alongside the School of Natural, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences' School of Infomatics, as well as the Entrepreneurship Institute.