TOWER 42 is the third tallest skyscraper in the
City of London and
the eighth tallest in Greater
The tower, designed by
Richard Seifert and engineered by Pell
Frischmann , is located at 25 Old Broad Street. It was built by John
The National Westminster Tower's status as the first skyscraper in the City was a coup for NatWest, but was extremely controversial at the time, as it was a major departure from the previous restrictions on tall buildings in London. The original concept dates back to the early 1960s, predating the formation of the National Westminster Bank. The site was then the headquarters of the National Provincial Bank , with offices in Old Broad Street backing onto its flagship branch at 15 Bishopsgate.
Early designs envisaged a tower of 137 m (450 ft); this developed into a design with a 197 m (647 ft) tower as its centrepiece, proposed in 1964 by architect Richard Seifert . The plan attracted opposition, partly because of the unprecedented height of the design and partly because of the proposed demolition of the 19th century bank building at 15 Bishopsgate, which dated from 1865 and was designed by architect John Gibson . Seifert, who had developed a reputation for overcoming planning objections, organised an exhibition in which he presented two alternative visions: his preferred design, and a second design featuring a 500 ft tower with an "absurdly squat" second tower alongside. Visitors were invited to vote and overwhelmingly chose the single tower design. The final design preserved the Gibson banking hall and the tower's height was reduced to 183 m (600 ft).
Demolition of the site commenced in 1970 and the tower was completed
in 1980. The building was constructed by John
The limitations of the design were immediately apparent - even though
the building opened six years before the Big Bang , when there was a
lesser requirement for large trading floors, the bank decided not to
locate its foreign exchange and money market trading operation ("World
Money Centre") into the tower. This unit remained in its existing
location at 53 Threadneedle Street. Other international banking units,
such as International Westminster Bank 's
Innovative features in the design included double-decked elevators, which provide an express service between the ground/mezzanine levels and the sky lobbies at levels 23 and 24. Double decked elevators and sky lobbies were both new to the UK at the time. Other innovative features included an internal automated "mail train" used for mail deliveries and document distribution; an automated external window washing system; and computer controlled air conditioning. The tower also had its own telephone exchange in one of the basement levels – this area was decorated with panoramic photographs of the London skyline, creating the illusion of being above ground.
Fire suppression design features included pressurised stairwells, smoke venting and fire retardant floor barriers. However, at the time of design, fire sprinkler systems were not mandatory in the UK and so were not installed. It was this omission, coupled with a fire in the tower during the 1996 refurbishment, that prompted the Greater London Council to amend its fire regulations and require sprinkler installations at all buildings.
The cantilever is constructed to take advantage of the air rights granted to it and the neighbouring site whilst respecting the banking hall on that adjacent site, as only one building was allowed to be developed. For a time it was the tallest cantilever in the world.
Following Nat West's refurbishment of the Tower, the bank renamed it the International Finance Centre, in 1997. The building was subsequently acquired by Hermes Real Estate and BlackRock's UK property fund in 1998 for GB£226 million. In 2010 they put the property on the market at an expected price of GB£300 million. This would potentially have been the largest single commercial property sale in the City of London in 2010. In July 2010 it was reported that Chinese Estates Group had entered exclusive discussions to buy Tower 42. but this deal did not conclude and it was sold in 2011 to the South African businessman Nathan Kirsh for £282.5 million.
National Westminster Tower entrance forecourt in 1981. The NatWest Tower's viewing gallery at Level 42, as seen in 1981. This area is now in use as the Vertigo 42 champagne bar.
Upon completion, the tower was occupied by a large part of NatWest's International Division. The upper floors were occupied by the division's executive management, marketing, and regional offices, moving from various locations in the City of London. The lower floors were occupied by NatWest's Overseas Branch, moving from its previous location at 52/53 Threadneedle Street.
The full floor configuration was as follows:
FLOORS CONFIGURATION OCCUPANTS
unnamed Core only Plant floor
unnamed Core only Plant floor
42 Core and cantilever (1 leaf) Viewing Gallery
41 Core and cantilever (1 leaf) Corporate hospitality suite
39 - 40 Core and cantilever (2 leaves) Corporate hospitality rooms and kitchens
37 - 38 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Executive Management
36 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Planning Subsidiaries Administration
35 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Advances; Marketing staff restaurant
32 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Corporate Financial Services
31 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Plant floor
29 - 30 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Corporate Financial Services
28 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Asia staff restaurant
26 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Africa Eastern Europe Southern Europe Region
24 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Treasurer's Department; Correspondent Bank Relationships
23 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Financial Control Department
22 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Plant floor
21 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) North America Representative Office
20 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Personnel Department
19 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Overseas Branch - Management
14 - 18 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Overseas Branch - International Trade & Banking Services
13 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Plant floor
12 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Mail & Translations
9 - 11 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Overseas Branch - Accounting
8 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Overseas Branch - Payments Abroad
5 - 7 Core and cantilever (3 leaves) Overseas Branch - Inland Payments
4 Core and cantilever (2 leaves) Staff restaurant
3 Core and cantilever (2 leaves) Maintenance, services
1 - 2 Core and cantilever (1 leaf) Maintenance, telephony, services
Podium Core and entrance structure Building control centre
Mezzanine Core and entrance structure Upper entrance lobby & lifts
Ground Core and entrance structure Lower entrance lobby "> East-facing view from Vertigo 42
Previous owners, UK property company Greycoat, renamed it
Current tenants of the building include:
* Adjusting Services International Limited - ASi
* Avaya Technologies
* Boston Technologies , Inc.
* CEBS Secretariat
* City Osteopath Clinics
* Corporate Communications (Europe)
* Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira (es) (Lawyers)
* CSJ Capital Partners LLP
Daewoo Securities (Europe)
* Davis & Co, Solicitors
* EUKOR Car Carriers Inc
European Banking Authority
* Front Capital Systems
* Haarmann Hemmelrath & Partner, Solicitors
Hong Kong Airlines
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.
The lighting system is formed of thousands of pixels mounted on a chain netting that is affixed to the surface of the building. Each pixel is formed of three RGB LED units , allowing a variety of lighting designs and colours to be displayed. The system was designed by SVM Associates and Zumtobel.
RANKING AMONG LONDON HIGH RISE BUILDINGS
The National Westminster Tower was the tallest building in
Preceded by Post Office Tower TALLEST BUILDING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM 1980—1991 183 m (600 ft) Succeeded by One Canada Square
Preceded by Post Office Tower TALLEST BUILDING IN LONDON 1980—1991 183 m (600 ft) Succeeded by One Canada Square
Preceded by Britannic House TALLEST BUILDING IN THE CITY OF LONDON 1980—2010 183 m (600 ft) Succeeded by Heron Tower
PREVIOUS BUILDINGS ON THE SITE
* GRESHAM HOUSE, built in 1563 by
Sir Thomas Gresham . Gresham was a
businessman who helped set up the Royal Exchange . Upon the death of
his wife in 1596, Gresham House became the 'Institute for Physic,
Civil Law, Music, Astronomy, Geometry and Rhetoric', as directed by
Gresham's will (Sir Thomas died 17 years earlier). Professors at
An annual fundraising event called Vertical Rush takes place inside Tower 42. It is a vertical run of 932 steps to the top of the tower.
* ^ "existing Buildings". Emporis. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
* ^ Hibbert, Christopher; Weinreb, Ben; Keay, John; Keay, Julia