diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Here's what the City skyline looked like at the end of last year, as viewed from the Isle of Dogs.

From left to right the tallest buildings are the Scalpel, the Cheesegrater, 22 Bishopsgate, Tower 42, the Gherkin, 100 Bishopsgate and Heron Tower. The Walkie Talkie is some way off to the left and the Broadgate Tower some way off to the right.
» Walkie Talkie (160m, 37 floors, 2014)
» Scalpel (190m, 39 floors, 2018)
» Cheesegrater (225m, 46 floors, 2014)
» 22 Bishopsgate (272m, 62 floors, 2019)
» Tower 42 (183m, 47 floors, 1980)
» Gherkin (180m, 40 floors, 2003)
» 100 Bishopsgate (172m, 40 floors, 2019)
» Heron Tower (230m, 46 floors, 2011)
» Broadgate Tower (164m, 35 floors, 2008)
And here's a striking image of "the future City skyline" according to The Square Mile: Future City, a five year action plan published earlier this week by the City of London. It's getting crowded up there.

The image includes eight new tall buildings "that are under construction, consented or with permission pending, but not yet built". Only three are currently building sites. Note how the City's skyscraper cluster is getting more dense and more defined. Also note how the poor old Gherkin is increasingly being surrounded and disappearing from view.

Here's my attempt at showing these locations on a map. Existing towers higher than 150m are in blue and the eight new buildings in red.

And here's a list of the eight proposed skyscrapers and how they're progressing.

1) 8 Bishopsgate (204m, 51 floors)
This one's already going up on the corner of Leadenhall Street and Bishopsgate. Last time I looked it had passed the 20 storeys mark. The design consists of four stacked blocks, the top two narrower than the lower two. Reminds me of a cassette rack on a cereal packet on a fencepost. Will contain 86,000m² of office space because this was deemed economic when planning permission was granted. Designed by the same architects who are hiding Battersea Power Station.
Public access: A rooftop pavilion on floor 50
Developerbolx: "The skyscraper will accent the nearby Leadenhall Building and add to the area's dramatic contemporary architecture"
Planning permission: 2017 | Broke ground: 2019 | Completion: 2022?

2) 1 Leadenhall Street (165m, 37 floors)
This one's on the opposite side of Leadenhall Street immediately adjacent to Grade II-listed Leadenhall Market. The Victorian Society have denounced it as "a glass lump". The existing buildings on site are undergoing demolition - they were making a heck of a racket knocking stuff down on Sunday. The design consists of a four storey block topped by three very lofty 'blades'. Will contain 40,000m² of office space.
Public access: A public terrace on the 4th floor (overlooking the market roof)
Developerbolx: "A vertical architectural composition that provides a singular, distinctive elegant identity on the skyline"
Planning permission: 2017 | Broke ground: 2021 | Completion: 2024?

3) 70 Gracechurch Street (155m, 33 floors)
This one'll be on the corner of Fenchurch Street where Marks and Spencer is now. It's only just received planning permission. The design consists of a trio of squished skyscrapers linked by vertical planters and looks rather odd. The entrance lobby will be on the second floor, opening up a large area of public realm at ground level. Replaces a building opened in 2002. Will contain 73,000m² of office space. The Walkie Talkie will no longer be out on a limb when this goes up.
Public access: A public gallery and winter garden at levels 29 and 30 offering views across London
Developerbolx: "The development creates a unique and dynamic silhouette without dominating the City skyline and showcases sustainability measures to promote health and wellbeing"
Planning permission: Feb 2021 | Completion: 202x?

4) 55 Gracechurch Street (150m, 36 floors)
The first tall building to be approved this year. Immediately adjacent to the Walkie Talkie. Its rectangular tower has two distinct parts - one silvery, one black - on top of a six-storey podium. Architects are making a big thing of 'vertical greening'. Not an especially unusual shape (or memorable design). Will replace an (existing) 8-storey building and contain 34,000m² of office space.
Public access: 6th floor roof garden
Developerbolx: "An exemplar in a new generation of office-led buildings, embracing sustainability and innovation and seeking to diversify the occupier base of the City of London"
Planning permission: Jan 2021 | Completion: 202x?

5) 1 Undershaft (the Trellis) (290m, 73 floors)
Second attempt at replacing St Helen's (formerly the Aviva Tower). Will be the second tallest building in the country, 20m shorter than the Shard, forming the highest point in the City skyscraper cluster. The core needs to be off centre to create public space underneath, hence the diamond-shaped cross-bracing that inspires the nickname. Will contain 93,000m² of office space. The existing building is still in use so it'll be at least five years before this could possibly be finished.
Public access: Free top level viewing gallery (which could include a museum).
Developerbolx: "While the quality of building will continue improving, new voices can join the dialogue and offer a direction to its actual development"
Planning permission: 2016 | Completion: 202x?

6) 100 Leadenhall Street (the Diamond) (263m, 56 floors)
Should be the third tallest building in the City. Will be immediately to the south of the Gherkin. The design is roughly wedge shaped, hence it's also been nicknamed Cheesegrater 2. A hexagonal cross-section rises from a limestone podium and tapers to a four-sided crown. The facade will have a 3D pattern of interlocking diamonds in an attempt to make it interesting. Will have 102,000m² of office space. The existing buildings have not yet been demolished.
Public access: The two uppermost floors (used for hospitality outside viewing times)
Developerbolx: "More than a landmark on the skyline, the tower is designed to respect the city's historic and contemporary urban context"
Planning permission: 2018 | Break ground: 2023? | Completion: 2028?

7) 40 Leadenhall Street (155m, 34 floors)
A slow burner. Demolition started in 2018 and has opened up a big gap between Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street. Central cores now rising. The design is made up of several stepped blocks, terracing down to the south to remain out of sight from Fleet Street. Has been nicknamed Gotham City (or The Toast Rack). Will have 125,000m² of office space. Site currently hosts the City's tallest crane.
Public access: maybe not
Developerbolx: "A well-thought-out confluence of architecture, townscape and commercial need"
Planning permission: 2014 | Broke ground: 2020 | Completion: 2023?

8) 50 Fenchurch Street (150m, 36 floors)
The Clothworkers' Company have been on this site since 1528, but the current postwar livery hall "is not fit for purpose". It'll be rebuilt underground with a massive tower on top, gifting a philanthropic windfall for the Clothworkers. The building will include a vertical green wall and 88,000m² of office space. The tower of All Hallows Staining will be blended into a new piazza. Dan Cruickshank hates it for encroaching on views of the Tower of London World Heritage Site. For now, Sainsburys, Halifax and Superdrug continue trading.
Public access: 10th floor terrace with 360° views (plus a double-height wintergarden)
Developerbolx: "The design journey of this urban proposition has been one of the most remarkable alignments between commerce, culture and the public realm that I have experienced."
Planning permission: 2020 | Completion: 202x?

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