30 ST MARY AXE (informally known as the GHERKIN and previously as the
SWISS RE BUILDING) is a commercial skyscraper in
After plans to build the 92-storey Millennium Tower were dropped, 30
St Mary Axe
The building has become a recognisable feature of
* 1 History
* 1.1 Site * 1.2 Planning process * 1.3 Design and construction * 1.4 After completion * 1.5 Tenants
* 2 See also * 3 References * 4 External links
The building stands on the former sites of the
Baltic Exchange (24-28
St Mary Axe
The United Kingdom government's statutory adviser on the historic
English Heritage , and the City of
English Heritage later discovered the damage was far more
severe than initially thought, they stopped insisting on full
restoration, albeit over the objections of the architectural
conservationists who favoured reconstruction. The
Baltic Exchange and
the Chamber of Shipping sold the land to Trafalgar House in 1995.
Most of the remaining structures on
Baltic Exchange site were then
carefully dismantled, the interior of Exchange Hall and the façade
were preserved, hoping for a reconstruction of the building in the
future. The salvaged material was eventually sold for £800,000 and
In 1996, Trafalgar House submitted plans for the Millennium Tower , a
386-metre (1,266 ft) building with more than 140,000 m2 (1,500,000 sq
ft) of office space, apartments, shops, restaurants and gardens. This
plan was dropped after objections for being totally out-of-scale with
the City of
The tower's topmost panoramic dome, known as the "lens", recalls the iconic glass dome that covered part of the ground floor of the Baltic Exchange and much of which is now displayed at the National Maritime Museum .
On 23 August 2000, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott granted planning permission to construct a building much larger than the old Exchange on the site. The site was special because it needed development, was not on any of the "sight lines" (planning guidance requires that new buildings do not obstruct or detract from the view of St Paul 's dome when viewed from a number of locations around London), and it had housed the Baltic Exchange.
The plan for the site was to reconstruct the Baltic Exchange. GMW Architects proposed a new rectangular building surrounding a restored exchange—the square shape would have the type of large floor plan that banks liked. Eventually, the planners realised that the exchange was not recoverable, forcing them to relax their building constraints; they hinted that an "architecturally significant" building might obtain a favourable reception from city authorities . This gave the architect a free hand in the design; it eliminated the restrictive demands for a large, capital-efficient, money-making building, whose design was per the client's desire.
Swiss Re 's low level plan met the planning authority's desire to maintain London's traditional streetscape with its relatively narrow streets. The mass of the Swiss Re tower was not too imposing. Like Barclays Bank's former City headquarters in Lombard Street , the idea was that the passer-by in neighbouring streets would be nearly oblivious to the tower's existence until directly underneath it.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
The building was constructed by
Skanska , completed in December 2003
and opened on 28 April 2004. The primary occupant of the building is
Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company, which had the building
commissioned as the head office for its UK operation. The tower is
thus sometimes known as the
Swiss Re Building, although this name has
never been official and has more recently fallen out of favour, since
the company's main headquarters is in
The building uses energy-saving methods, which allow it to use half the power that a similar tower would typically consume. Gaps in each floor create six shafts that serve as a natural ventilation system for the entire building, even though required firebreaks on every sixth floor interrupt the "chimney". The shafts create a giant double glazing effect; air is sandwiched between two layers of glazing and insulates the office space inside.
Architects promote double glazing in residential houses, which avoids the inefficient convection of heat across the relatively narrow gap between the panes, but the tower exploits this effect. The shafts pull warm air out of the building during the summer and warm the building in the winter using passive solar heating . The shafts also allow sunlight to pass through the building, making the work environment more pleasing, and keeping the lighting costs down.
The primary methods for controlling wind-excited sways are to increase the stiffness, or increase damping with tuned/active mass dampers . To a design by Arup, its fully triangulated perimeter structure makes the building sufficiently stiff without any extra reinforcements. Despite its overall curved glass shape, there is only one piece of curved glass on the building — the lens-shaped cap at the apex.
On the building's top level (the 40th floor), there is a bar for tenants and their guests, featuring a panoramic view of London. A restaurant operates on the 39th floor, and private dining rooms on the 38th. Whereas most buildings have extensive lift equipment on the roof of the building, this was not possible for the Gherkin, since a bar had been planned for the 40th floor. The architects dealt with this by having the main lift only reach the 34th floor, and then having a push-from-below lift to the 39th floor. There is a marble stairwell and a disabled persons' lift which leads the visitor up to the bar in the dome .
The building is visible over long distances: From the north, for
instance, it can be seen from the
In April 2005, the press reported that a glass panel two-thirds up the tower had fallen to the plaza beneath. The plaza was sealed off, but the building remained open. A temporary covered walkway, extending across the plaza to the building's reception, was erected to protect visitors. Engineers examined the other 744 glass panels on the building. The cost of repair was covered by main contractor Skanska and curtain-wall supplier Schmidlin (now called Schmidlin-TSK AG).
Since its completion, the building has won a number of awards for
architecture. In October 2004, the architect was awarded the 2004 RIBA
Stirling Prize . For the first time in the prize's history, the judges
reached a unanimous decision. In December 2005, a survey of the
world's largest firms of architects published in _2006 BD World
Architecture 200_ voted the tower as the most admired new building in
the world. However, Ken Shuttleworth , who worked for Foster and
Partners on the design of the building, said in 2011 that he believed
the style was now out-moded: "I was looking at the glass all around
and , 'Why on earth did we do that?' Now we would do things
differently". The building featured in recent films such as _Harry
Potter and the Half Blood Prince _,
In September 2006, the building was put up for sale with a price tag
of £600 million. Potential buyers included
British Land , Land
Securities , Prudential , ING , and the
Since February 2010, Sky News has broadcast its flagship business programme, _ Jeff Randall Live _, from a studio in the building. In addition the top two floors of tower are now available on a private hire basis for events. Aerial view showing complete structure
Deloitte announced in April 2014 that the building was again being
put up for sale, with an expected price of £550 million. The current
owners could not afford to make loan repayments, citing differences in
the value of the multi-currency loan and the British pound, high
interest rates and general financing structure. In November 2014, the
As of January 2015, current occupiers of the building include:
* Landmarks of
* ^ "
* ^ _A_ _B_ "History – 1949-Today". Baltic Exchange. Archived
from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
* ^ "
Baltic Exchange Memorial Glass". _www.rmg.co.uk_. National
Maritime Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
* ^ "No gherkins please, we\'re British". London: The Guardian. 6
August 1999. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
* ^ "Issues – The newsletter of GMW Architects" (PDF). GMW
Architects. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2007.
Retrieved 6 February 2010.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Spring, Martin (2008). "30 St Mary Axe: A
gherkin to suit all tastes". _Building.co.uk_. Retrieved 7 February
* ^ Hossenally, Rooksana. "The Gherkin, London, UK".
_EasyVoyage.co.uk_. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
* ^ Bar-hillel, Mira; Harris, Ed (2005). "Safety fear over