JAC & London’s Building Icons
What makes an iconic building?
Design, architecture, indeed anything aesthetic is by its very nature hugely subjective. Following on from a recent post, should we be celebrating the sustainable, environmentally sympathetic commercial buildings or those that have added to (albeit some may argue detracted from) the London city skyline? Ideally of course, both are possible and should be an integral part of London’s planning…
According to a well-known search engine there are any number of potential ‘Landmark’ or ‘Iconic’ buildings, both commercial and non-commercial in London as you would expect.
Once you remove the amazing older buildings in London such as Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, none of which JAC have worked in sadly, the list that remains is still staggering. Apologies in advance if we have missed off any obviously iconic commercial buildings, please do comment and let us know.
We here at JAC are very fortunate that the clients who choose us to help project manage their big office relocations or refurbishments also choose some amazing buildings as their offices. Clearly, they have impeccable taste…
We thought we would list some of the iconic buildings we have worked in and what makes them special outside of their eye-catching design. We have also some clients moving into what will be iconic structures, at least in our eyes, but as we say, it is all subjective.
The Shard (32 London Bridge)
Designed by Renzo Piano and the tallest building in Western Europe, overtaking One Canada Square, designed as a ‘Vertical City’ it comprises high-class offices, award-wining restaurants, a 5-star Hotel, exclusive residences and the UK’s highest viewing gallery. It uses the specially designed glass to help keep the building cool and save on cooling costs (both environmental and financial) but a little more unheralded fact is that a staggering 95% of construction materials used were recycled. Being so obvious an addition to the skyline it made our client’s new location very easy to find indeed.
Lloyds Building (1 Lime Street)
The oldest building on this list, and perhaps one of the most recognisable. Designed by Richard Rogers back in the mid 1970’s with the services on the outside – the lifts, service conduits and staircases are all moved out to allow the inside to become less cluttered…as to maintenance of these now exposed services and replacement of the glass we couldn’t comment, however as the home of insurance we have enjoyed working with a few clients inside.
The Walkie-Talkie (20 Fenchurch)
The Walkie-Talkie has its fans as well as its detractors, but the sky garden (London’s highest public garden) has proved to be a great attraction. What many don’t know is that hydrogen fuel-cell technology, similar to that originally developed for the Apollo and Shuttle space missions, was installed. The 300kWe stationary fuel cell, the first installed in the City of London, is fuelled by natural gas and integrated with an absorption chiller to produce cooling for the building when the demand for heat is low. Through the production of low-carbon cooling, heating and electricity, it helps to reduce carbon emissions from the building which helped earn a BREEAM Excellent rating. Designed by Renzo Piano, it has had its problems in terms of being awarded the dreaded design Carbuncle Cup, but our client loved it and the views are spectacular.
The Cheesegrater (The Leadenhall Building)
Located at the heart of the building’s sustainability a triple-layer glass ‘skin’. The outer layer of glass is separated from an inner layer of double-glazing by a cavity containing blinds that respond to the sun’s movement, keeping the office space comfortably cool throughout the working day.
The external glazing incorporates vents every seventh storey, allowing air to flow freely around the cavity. This minimises the need for artificial cooling – typically the highest single source of energy use in an office building. When we first worked in the building it also had an 8-week lead time to book lifts, which was a logistical challenge, one we successfully worked out. Designed by Rogers, Stirk Harbour & Partners (who liked it so much they moved in too).
The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe)
Definitely one of the easier buildings to identify, the building uses advanced energy saving methods and consumes just half the resources of another similar sized building. Designed by Foster + Partners and winner of the Sterling Prize, the swirling striped pattern visible on the exterior is the result of the building’s energy-saving system which allows the air to flow up through spiralling wells.
One Canada Square
The second tallest in this list and reminiscent of Big Ben, the pyramid roof is an important feature of the building, enclosing a maintenance plant and housing facilities for water supply and window washing, and an aircraft warning beacon. The pyramid itself is 30 metres square at the base, 40 metres high and 240m above sea level at the peak. It is made from stainless steel and is held together by 100,000 nuts and bolts, with a weight of over 100 tons. A louvre access door opens to allow a shining beacon to identify the building to passing aircraft, and the architect (Cesar Pelli) had to reduce the height by 5 stories to accommodate London City airport air traffic regulations.
Tower 42 (25 Old Broad Street)
Originally known as the NatWest Tower as it was built to house their headquarters, when seen from above the shape of the tower resembles that of the NatWest logo (three chevrons in a hexagonal arrangement). First occupied in 1980 it held the tallest building in London title for 30 years until the Heron (now Salesforce) Tower topped out. In June 2012, a Capix LED multi-media lighting system was installed around levels 39 to 45. This replaced the previous high-energy floodlighting at the top of the building and displayed the Olympic Rings for the London Olympic games in the same year.
The ones we haven’t worked in yet,
but are very happy to do so…
The Scalpel (52 Lime Street)
Designed by Kohn Petersen Fox, the building was originally nicknamed by the Financial Times but as the distinctive angular design fitted the nickname so well it was subsequently officially adopted as the name. BREEAM Excellent, the building has a spectacular triple height reception.
The Salesforce Tower (110 Bishopsgate)
Originally known as The Heron Tower (Salesforce gained naming rights when they moved in) was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and is home to a 70,000 litre aquarium, the largest privately owned example in the UK, home to over 60 species of fish and curated by 2 full time fish attendants. Having been lucky enough to see the wonderful Salesforce Ohana floor (Hawaiian for ‘family’) and enjoyed the views from both Sushi Samba and the Duck & Waffle this is definitely a building we would like to work in.
The future icons?
Twentytwo (22 Bishopsgate)
22 Bishopsgate seems to be a nailed on future classic – we are fortunate enough to have two clients taking space and once finished and up and running will be an amazing space, smart, sustainable and stunning, designed in such detail that the architects, PLP, worked with engineers from Formula 1 to model every 10 centimetres of the building and the impact it would have on wind flows,
100 Liverpool Street
It may not be an instant classic but the curves and terraces of 100 Liverpool Street seem to offer a wonderful respite to the harder edged surroundings, and with a client taking a high floor the views over the excellently managed Broadgate estate are superb.
Written by Pendrick Brown, Commercial Director
– April 2020