Axel Ax:son Johnson, the Consul General, took over at the helm of the business group following his father’s death in 1910. He wanted a modern, practical head office for the growing business group, which now comprised the shipping company Nordstjernan, Avesta Jernverk and the trading firm A. Johnson & Co. When the building at Stureplan became vacant after NK’s move to Hamngatan, he decided to strike.
But Erik Josephson’s grandiose creation, only 15 years old at the time, was not to the Consul General’s liking. He hired Ivar Tengbom to conduct an extensive renovation. Tengbom was a young architect who would later put his mark on the Stockholm cityscape through buildings such as the Stockholm Concert Hall at Hötorget, Enskilda Banken’s head office on Kungsträdgårdsgatan, the Stockholm School of Economics on Sveavägen and Tändstickspalatset on Västra Trädgårdsgatan.
The renovations began in 1916. Almost nothing was left untouched. Fairytale romanticism and exoticism were replaced with a sense of strength, firmness and optimism.
The new offices were completed in 1919. As the scaffolding was removed, astonished Stockholmers were left to admire a decidedly more austere building. The architect himself claimed that the renovation had restored the “manhood” of the building’s previously “genderless exterior.”
The domed tower had been replaced by a decorative crow’s nest. The decadent, perfumed fairytale castle had been transformed into a vessel cleaving the waves of the future.