20 Fenchurch Street
|20 Fenchurch Street|
Artist's impression of 20 Fenchurch Street within the City of London and The Pinnacle in the background (left)
|Location||London, United Kingdom|
|Estimated completion||April 2014|
|Roof||160 m (525 ft)|
|Floor count||34 (plus three-storey 'sky gardens')|
|Floor area||Offices: 668,926 square feet (62,100 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Developer||Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group|
|Structural engineer||Halcrow Yolles|
|Main contractor||Canary Wharf Contractors|
20 Fenchurch Street is a commercial skyscraper under construction on Fenchurch Street in central London. It has been nicknamed The Walkie-Talkie because of its distinctive shape. Upon completion in 2014 the building will be 160 m (525 ft) tall with 37 storeys.
Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly and costing over £200 million, it features a highly distinctive top-heavy form which appears to burst upward and outward. A large viewing deck and 'sky gardens' will be included on the top three floors; these will be open to the public.
The tower was originally proposed at nearly 200 m tall but its design was scaled down after concerns about its visual impact on the nearby St Paul's Cathedral and Tower of London. It was subsequently approved in November 2006. Even after the height reduction there were continued concerns from heritage groups about its impact on the surrounding area. The project was subsequently the subject of a public inquiry. In July 2007, this ruled in the developers' favour, and the building was granted full planning permission.
In their preliminary results for 2007, joint-developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf Group said 20 Fenchurch Street would be completed in 2011, however in 2009 during the depths of the Great Recession, the completion date was delayed to 2014.
It is one of a number of new tall buildings for the City of London financial district; others include The Pinnacle, the Leadenhall Building, and an as yet unnamed project at 52-54 Lime Street. Several insurance companies have agreed to become tenants of 20 Fenchurch Street upon its completion.
The building was formerly occupied by Dresdner Kleinwort and was notable for being one of the first tall buildings in the City of London, and for its distinctive roof. It was one of the towers nearest to the River Thames when viewed from the southern end of London Bridge.
In 2007, one of the upper floors was used in the drama series Party Animals.
Demolition of the building was completed in 2008. Despite the top-down method of construction, the old building was not demolished from the bottom-up, as a temporary structure was built, allowing Keltbray, the demolition contractor, to demolish the building from the top down.
The new tower at 20 Fenchurch Street is designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. The top-heavy design is partly intended to maximise floor space towards the top of the building, where rent is typically higher.
It will be clad with double- and triple-glazed panelised aluminium cladding. The botanical gardens at the top of the building will be London's highest public park — marginally higher than Rickman Hill Park in Coulsdon at 155 m above sea level at its highest point. The gardens will span the top three storeys, will be accessible by two express lifts, and shall include a viewing area, terrace, café, bar and restaurant. Fourteen double-deck lifts (seven low-rise up to the 20th floor, seven high-rise above the 20th floor) will serve the main office floors of the building.
The south side of the structure will be ventilated externally to improve efficiency and decrease solar gain, whilst the east and west faces incorporate extensive solar shading. There will be a southern entrance in addition to the main northern entrance set back from Fenchurch Street.
In January 2009, piling began on the site of 20 Fenchurch Street, signalling the start of construction of the Walkie-Talkie. Piling and ground works were completed in June 2009.
In January 2011, work at the basement level of the tower began. By the end of October 2011, the building was rising above street-level. December 2011 saw the tower's core begin to rise. The concrete core was topped out in March 2012 and by July the structural steelwork was under way around the core. Structural steelwork topped out on 12 December 2012.
Fire protection contractor Sharpfibre Ltd began applying fire protection to the structural steelwork in December 2012, completing in March 2013. Cementitious spray was applied to the steelwork, which was supplied directly to the entire building using a purpose-built mixing and pumping station located on the ground floor.
The building completes to shell and floor in March 2014 and the first tenants are due to move into the building from May 2014.
In June 2012 the insurer Markel Corporation signed a tenancy agreement with the developers to move into 20 Fenchurch Street upon its completion. Markel, currently based on Leadenhall Street since 2001, was the first confirmed tenant of the new tower and will occupy the 26th and 27th floors.
Another insurer, Kiln Group, announced in September 2012 that it had agreed to become the building's second confirmed tenant and Ascot Underwriting followed in November 2012. Other insurance companies that will take space in the building include RSA, Tokio Marine and Liberty Mutual's European operations.
Other lettings have been agreed with Vanquis Bank, Jane Street Capital and Allied World, meaning 87% of the available space is leased or under offer.
In addition to concerns raised before the final approval of construction of 20 Fenchurch Street over the impact on views of surrounding historical sites, the project was widely publicised during the summer of 2013 when it was reported that the reflection of sunlight off the unusually-shaped building was generating a beam of light up to six times brighter than direct sunlight shining onto the streets beneath. The reflection reportedly damaged vehicles parked nearby, including one on Eastcheap whose owner was paid £946 by the developers for repairs to melted bodywork, leading the media to dub the building the "Walkie-Scorchie" and "Fryscraper".
For a period of up to two hours each day if the sun shines directly onto the building, it acts as a concave mirror and reflects light onto the streets to the south. Spot temperature readings including up to 91 °C (196 °F) and 117 °C (243 °F) were observed.
In September 2013, the developers issued a statement saying that the City of London Corporation had approved plans to erect temporary screening on the streets to prevent similar incidents, and that they were also "evaluating longer-term solutions to ensure the issue cannot recur in future".
The building's architect, Rafael Viñoly, also designed the Vdara hotel in Las Vegas which reportedly has a similar sunlight reflection problem that some employees called the "Vdara death ray". The glass has since been covered with a non-reflective film.
In an interview with The Guardian, Viñoly said that horizontal sun-louvers on the south side that had been intended to prevent this problem were removed at some point during the planning process. While he conceded that there had been "a lot of mistakes" with the building, he agreed with the building's developers that the sun was too high in the sky on that particular day. "[I] didn't realise it was going to be so hot," he said, suggesting that global warming was at fault. "When I first came to London years ago, it wasn't like this ... Now you have all these sunny days."
- City of London landmarks
- Plantation Place, a neighbouring office building
- St Margaret Pattens, a neighbouring 17th-century church
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- "Who, what, why: How does a skyscraper melt a car?". bbc.co.uk. BBC News Magazine. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "London's 'fryscaper' draws crowd on hottest day". Mississauga.com. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
- "Walkie-Talkie skyscraper to have screen put up to stop rays". BBC News. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.
- "'Death ray' at Vegas hotel pool heats up guests". MSNBC. 30 September 2010.
- Wainwright, Oliver (6 September 2013). "Walkie Talkie architect 'didn't realise it was going to be so hot'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
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