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Thread: The Shard of Glass - Renzo Piano's London Bridge Tower

  1. #61

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    Gawd is it aTALL possible to get ANYTHING off the ground in London, without the 5 year pissing about with lawyers, clauses, funding, contingency plans, engineering debacles and expensive portfolios for investors and shareholders to weigh up the profitability of their slice of pie? Then deciding not to do anything at all and selling off the land they bought as a profit (which was the original plan in the first place for those in the know).

    The middlemen and construction companies are making a killing, the investors so scared of any element of risk, usually coupled with super safe designs to reflect their inbred banality (I know not in this case, but just look at Canary Wharfs repetitively watered-down-from-the-original designs), theyd rather blow their money on deciding not to take the risk than putting any plan into physical action. eg Lets blow 100 million quid on competituions, redesigns, enquiries, fees, lawyers, contingency funding and bureacracy that ultimately surmount to nothing than the 200 million quid it would cost if we just went ahead and built the bloody thing (with the most interesting architectural elements cut out to improve 'value').


    One word: OBFUSCATION, (look it up if ya have to) its an increasingly profitable strategy for anyone involved in the 'decision making process'.

    Strangely enough, news just in as of last week, London is now the worlds most expensive place to build in, with costs STILL expected to increase next year by up to 15%. Sure, the land is expensive but does it REALLY cost $1 billion for a 7 storey office building in the West End, $2.2 billion for a hospital, $4 billion for a sewer pipeline? $20 billion to upgrade a 400 mile rail line to high speed. With all the hoohaa for the $2 billion Kings Cross I was expecting a true 'palace to travel' as they make out. Yes it is glorious, it is impressive but surely how can they justify the cost when looking round, all is already built originals, and the new parts are simple glass boxes attached to the old. Basically new platforms built over the old storage rooms (and shops fitted in), with the roof cleaned and restored. Surely the cost of a snazzy out of town supermall wouldve cost more?

    This is increasingly what big business is taking a leaf from: public spending. It ups their costs: to move a framed picture in a school costs $400, change a lightbulb $120, to even look at changing a toilet block sets you back $20,000 (without a single piece of furniture moved). All this because youd have to pay for some call out fee for some monkey to look at the picture/ lightbulb, weigh up the risk assessments and architectural plans of attack, then call out another set of people to carry out the painstaking work, forms to sign and bollards to put up and public access areas closed for inordinate amounts of time. In 1968 it took 4 years to build the entire Victoria Line on the Underground. Fast forward to 1992 and it takes private contractors 12 years to repair one single main escalator at Tottenham Court Rd, and paid by the hour with taxpayers money( imagine walking up 3 flights of stairs every day on your commute for 15 years while the escalator is sealed off with a few mechanics loitering about on it).


    sorry, completely off topic to LBTower, its just a repetitive story these days - delay delay delays, cost cost costs. Im having a rant with the bigger picture.
    Last edited by zupermaus; December 11th, 2007 at 11:33 AM.

  2. #62

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    I understand your frustration, Zupermaus. However I doubt that all that dilly-dallying is without purpose (i.e. risk limitation / due diligence).

    Modern, democratic cities are places where any major project involves a multitude of 'stakeholders'. And the modern economy is one where any large investment, similarly, involves a lot of parties. Both structural aspects have pro and cons.

    If the cons outweigh the pros, presumably you or someone else will show us all what we're doing wrong by doping it right. Not having a go at you, just reminding all that it's easy to criticize something when you don't have to do it yourself or risk your own money (or be accountable for someone else's).

    I think that Canary Wharf in a way ahs been successful precisely because at least some of the difficulties of building a skyscrapers are already taken care of, so to speak.

    On a related note, I personally think that large agglomerations of large/tall office buildings, like factories, should primarily be built away from historic towns/fabric (which can still contain the majority of businesses that do not require gazillion square foot towers, etc as well as a few, Iconic, slender towers).

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    I personally think that large agglomerations of large/tall office buildings, like factories, should primarily be built away from historic towns/fabric (which can still contain the majority of businesses that do not require gazillion square foot towers, etc as well as a few, Iconic, slender towers).
    Why ... that's a description of London !

  4. #64

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    Whatever's happening with the shard of glass, they certainly seem to be taking their time putting up the scaffolding around the current building ready for demolition.

    I could put it up quicker myself.

  5. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    I understand your frustration, Zupermaus. However I doubt that all that dilly-dallying is without purpose (i.e. risk limitation / due diligence).

    Modern, democratic cities are places where any major project involves a multitude of 'stakeholders'. And the modern economy is one where any large investment, similarly, involves a lot of parties. Both structural aspects have pro and cons.

    If the cons outweigh the pros, presumably you or someone else will show us all what we're doing wrong by doping it right. Not having a go at you, just reminding all that it's easy to criticize something when you don't have to do it yourself or risk your own money (or be accountable for someone else's).

    I think that Canary Wharf in a way ahs been successful precisely because at least some of the difficulties of building a skyscrapers are already taken care of, so to speak.

    On a related note, I personally think that large agglomerations of large/tall office buildings, like factories, should primarily be built away from historic towns/fabric (which can still contain the majority of businesses that do not require gazillion square foot towers, etc as well as a few, Iconic, slender towers).

    yep point taken, but my point is the grand, legislated corruption. It really doesnt cost $120 to change a lightbulb in a school but thats what they charge by pissing about until the labour and paperwork costs amount to that, citing health and safety clauses and potential lawsuits as back up for their inordinately complicative strategies. Its exactly the same for building projects, it really shouldnt take 12 years to fix an escalator or cost the taxpayer $2.2 billion for upgrading a hospital but it does.

    Fair enough be careful and follow procedure, but its interesting to note it pays handsomely if you unneccessarily complicate things, delay projects and start risk enquiries. The lengths at which they do is criminal in all but name.

  6. #66

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    One thing I've found very surprising, given the stratospheric land values in London, is how slowly buildings projects progreess. Half the time, you can only see a handful of chaps in hard hats mucking about at the periphery of soem mosnter site. The Buildings that took over the wester side of Spitalfields market took something likr 2 years+ to go up from deomolition to completion. I saw it all from my office. They seemed to keep re-doing work. Just amazing....

  7. #67

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    ^ This is true, but some developments progress far faster than others. Take a look at the Heron tower site. The buildings were demolished in a matter of weeks and the site is now in preparation for the new tower. The Broadgate tower went up very quickly.

    As for the Shard of Glass - I share your frustration Zupermaus - the building already there (according to the official website) should be well into demolition - about halfway through in fact. In reality they are still putting up scaffolding, in fact i think there are only about 4 men actually working on the site (i was watching from the window where i work the other day). I'm wondering if it will get built at all now, there must be some reason they are dragging their feet.

    http://www.shardlondonbridge.com/


  8. #68

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    Some good news from skyscrapernews.com

    Shard Secures Massive Middle Eastern Investment

    Published on 2007-12-24 by Skyscrapernews.com

    http://www.skyscrapernews.com/news.php?ref=1279


    The developer behind London Bridge Tower, better known as the Shard, appears to have finally secured the necessary investment to move the project into full-blown construction.

    In a deal involving QInvest, an investment fund representing four Qatari financial groups and private investors from around the Persian Gulf has seen two of the partners in the scheme, the Halabi Family Trust and CLS Investments completely bought out with the remaining partner, the Sellar Property Group reduced to having a 20% holding down from a third.

    Press reports indicate that the scale of the deal is worth at least £1.4 billion to QInvest making the project the most expensive building in the world with a current value of perhaps £1.75 billion pounds or 3.4748 billion U.S dollars. Assuming the £1.4 billion sum is correct then it also values the remaining share of the Sellar Property Group at £375 million.

    The big challenge for the consortium of groups involved in the Shard, Teighmore, had been to raise the massive amount of money needed to build the scheme whilst facing the decreasing availability of credit on the world financial markets, squabbling between partners and predicted annual increases in construction costs of 6% per year.

    The injection of capital into the scheme by QInvest eliminates the first two problems completely by providing enough funds to build the project which is estimated at having a construction cost of £800 million, and secondly to remove two of the partners leaving only the Sellar Property Group.

    With two pre-lets already secured and the apartments within the building set to fetch silly prices rivaling One Hyde Park the scheme should prove highly profitable for the backers assuming they can keep the costs under control.

    It makes the Shard the third major skyscraper in London to have received backing from Arabs following the Heron Tower and Bishopsgate Tower and raises the interesting question of why British bankers don't see high-rise schemes in such a positive light compared to foreigners.

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    The Buildings that took over the wester side of Spitalfields market
    That seems like a real shame. Is it?

    Is the market a shadow of its former self?

    Is there a silver lining?

    Is Foster the architect?

  10. #70

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    ^Norman Foster and partners were the architects for Bishops square.

    Personally i think the development has enhanced Spitalfields market and the surrounding area.

    The reason for the delays with this particular development was because archaeological diggs in and around the site.

    From British archaeology, December 1999:

    http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba50/ba50feat.html

    ''Few recent archaeological finds have generated such intense excitement as the Roman sarcophagus discovered in London in March this year. The sarcophagus contained a complete lead coffin, in which lay the bones, and some of the belongings, of a wealthy Roman lady who probably died some time in the 4th century. The story was picked up by newspapers around the world.
    The sarcophagus was the first to be discovered in London in almost 30 years, and the first containing a lead coffin in more than a century. Since its discovery, archaeologists have continued to study the burial and conserve the artefacts. The results are still preliminary, but this burial and the site as a whole are already proving to be one of the most fascinating archaeological projects yet carried out in London.
    The site is being excavated by the Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS) in advance of large-scale redevelopment of Spitalfields Market. The main focus of the excavation is the medieval priory and hospital of St Mary Spital which was one of the largest such establishments in the country, although no remains now survive above ground.
    The excavations have found well-preserved remains of the hospital, together with more than 8,000 medieval burials, and houses and streets from the 16th-18th centuries that post-date the dissolution of the monastery. Beneath these remains lie one of London's principal Roman cemeteries, which lay outside the city walls alongside Ermine Street, the main road from London to the north''.




  11. #71

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    ^ And this is better than the market building it supplanted?

  12. #72

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    ^ No its not better than the origional market. 2/3 of it has gone and i think it is a great shame, but i think the development of the area could have been a lot worse. About 1/3 of the market remains, so i guess we should be glad of that at least.

  13. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    ^ And this is better than the market building it supplanted?
    The buildings are very ugly (and considerably less luminescent than in the rendering (quelle surprise...). The urban arrangement has been incredibly successful and positive.

    Must post pics......

    Meerkat: I'm aware of the archeological aspects. AFAIK, they added a 2-4 months to the construction process, but it seemed still incredibly drawn out anyhow.

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luca View Post
    The urban arrangement has been incredibly successful and positive.
    High praise --especially coming from you.

    So what is this "urban arrangement"?

  15. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    High praise --especially coming from you.
    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post

    So what is this "urban arrangement"?


    Briefly, the Spitalfields Market area, at the border between City and East End, was neglected in the post-war years. When I first came to London in the early 1990s (and indeed until the early part of this decade), the City emptied completely after 7 pm on Friday. Furthermore, the area between the City and Brick Lane was virtually a wasteland, despite its rich history and not insubstantial architectural heritage.

    The emergence of the area around and north of Brick Lane as a mix of original East End features and newly hip area coincided with the eastward and NE-ward expansion of The City (as shown in some of the other threads). However, the main east-west avenues of communication were far from ideal from an urban experience/pedestrian standpoint.

    The new development has brought a large number of new retail spaces, while preserving the older, more historical portion of Spitalfields Market and its traditional market stalls. By extending the retail/eating places/pedestrian-friendly corridor to Bishopsgate (along Brushfield Street), it has created a mega-link between The Brick Lane/Commecial Avenue/former Truman Brewery area and the City/Bishopsgate. The amount of foot traffic/tourist passage and intermingling of “suits” and “hipsters” along the Brush field Street corridor has to be seen to be believed, especially on a sunny day. Where there was next to none before.

    So you have a combination of:
    1) Massive East End resurgence in the nearby area (tourism and hipsters)
    2) A continuously expanding City with greater retail/residential/hotel presence
    3) A development that created a much more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly street wall along the Western end of Brushfield Street while maintaining the “interesting” bits at the Eastern end of the street.

    Having had the luck of working right there (you cans see my office to the left edge of the rendering above), I found it incredibly instructive as to the difference between architectural accomplishment and urban arrangement.

    Note, however, that the original development proposal wanted to 1) wipe out the entire market and 2) would not have provided the same street-level amenities A victory for the planners/conservationists, it would seem.

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