Call it Shardism, or less delicately, a Shard-on. Either way, this proposed City skyscraper seems to borrow design cues from the Southwark behemoth.
Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox (the firm behind the Heron tower and currently-stalled Pinnacle), the building, described by the Financial Times as resembling an “upright scalpel”, is the new London HQ for US-based insurance firm WR Berkely. The 35-storey, 190m tower would be located at the junction of Lime Street and Leadenhall Street, amidst a cluster of distinctive buildings including the Gherkin, Lloyd’s of London and the under-construction Cheesegrater. At ground level a new public plaza, including a cafe “inspired by the original Lloyds Coffee House that birthed the insurance industry”, will be built (for more on the origins of London’s financial markets, see our beginner’s guide).
Visually, the angled cerulean glass panes are evocative of the Shard, while the word ‘scalpel’ invokes the acute angles of London’s tallest building. And why not? Despite concerns from some, the Shard is among the most popular new buildings in London. Expect a few more clumsy homages before the decade is out.
What’s perhaps more concerning is the WR Berkely CEO’s assertion that his firm had looked at existing space but found that it “[wasn’t] up to the technological standards needed”. This at a time when the Shard is yet to shift a square foot of office space, and the aforementioned Pinnacle struggles to attract tenants.
Should it be granted planning permission, construction will begin in 2013 for completion in 2017.