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

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

    "The Shard of Glass"
    Renzo Piano's London Bridge Tower

    by Kriss Pettersen

    "Architects have to dream, we have to search for our Atlantises, to be explorers, adventurers, and yet to build responsibly and well."

    Renzo Piano's words speak to the difficulties architects face when designing a groundbreaking project such as the proposed London Bridge Tower, a 1,016 foot tall mixed use development in the central London borough of Southward, by the river Thames. The architect must conceptualize the idea, make it practical to build, then communicate it to the public - all just to have a chance at seeing the dream become a reality.

    "We need to make a building that doesn't shut people out, one that responds to local as well as city-wide needs. A building of this scale, this ambition, cannot be just for private gain: it becomes a public project privately financed."

    Just as Daniel Libeskind is politicing in New York to keep his World Trade Center design intact, Piano also faces immense political pressure in London, pressure that he sees can only be solved by showing the people of London how his design will respond to their concerns. Those against the project defend the English Heritage, claiming the building would interfere with legally protected views of St. Paul's Cathedral and "open the floodgates to high-rise development in the city's historic core." Those for the project belive it would identify London as a 21st-Century capital while filling a growing need for desirable office space in the city. Of course, there are always financial concerns outside the architect's control. The project, developed by Irvine Sellar, is estimated to cost close to 500m and as with most large-scale developments, will hinge on financing. But the more that Piano can show how beneficial the design will be for the city of London, a political blessing will go a long way to raising the necessary funds for its construction.

    "Of course, I understand the suspicions of Londoners who have seen so many cynical and ugly commercial towers - hermetic buildings cut off from public life and dead at night - dominate the city over the past 40 years. How can we show this is very different? How can I say to people there, 'Trust me?'"

    Piano himself refers to his design as a "Shard of Glass", describing the tower's design as a sharp and light presence in the London skyline, its shape generous at the bottom and narrow at the top, disappearing into the air like the mast of a tall ship. The tower is planned to be sheathed in glass, using a ventilated double-skin facade to reduce heat gain. The building's shape also lends itself to a pragmatic structural approach, and Piano has aligned himself with Ove Arup and Partners for both structural and sustainable design. Targeting a 30% reduction in energy compared to a conventional tall building, Arup's contributions will only help Piano realize his desire for human, technological, energetic and economic sustainability.

    "We want the tower to be a vertical city of eight or nine thousand people, with mixed uses - shops, entertainment, flats, offices, observation galleries, and even a small church, or chapel of peace, 260m in the air. We want it to be a democratic project. We will only do it if we can achieve the right quality of design and construction."

    In a dense city such as London, a mixed-use skyscraper project makes sense. Its location has excellent public transport connections as London Bridge station connects mainline and Tube trains and has a large bus depot. However, for such a building to become reality, concessions must certainly need to be made - concessions that Renzo Piano may not be willing to make. The longer the project takes to get started, the more it will cost. The developer has promised to honor a legal agreement he signed with the architect binding him to follow through on the quality that Piano demands. But if the building is still under construction in 2009, it might be hard to stay the course on quality with escalating construction costs and the pressure to complete the project.

    "It is that search for Atlantis, for something special. We have to have the confidence to believe that we can create a tower that Londoners will come to respect as they respect St Paul's. The power of Mammon created a beautiful city like Siena; this power can be put to good civic use, not just to make developers rich. Well, there will be many more talks, I'm sure. This is not the sort of building you can put up overnight. Like a violin, it will need careful tuning."

    As one of the masters of modern architecture, Renzo Piano knows that the approval process for a project such as the London Bridge Tower is a long one, and that he must do his role as the architect to represent the design without sounding too high and mighty. Including the city officials as part of the team and listening to their concerns is very important, as well as giving the people of London the sense of the building's importance for the future of the city. And even if the project is granted approval to proceed, there will still be many meetings with building officials where Piano will need to continue to push design excellence to keep the tower's design intact, even while making the inevitable necessary concessions. It will be this ability that will ultimately prove the success of the project.

    Renzo Piano quotes from interview with UK Guardian Unlimited



  2. #2

    Default The Shard of Glass

    Stunning; such a lucid expression of hierarchy deserves a place in London's core. *Piano is brilliant.

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    Default The Shard of Glass

    I have a feeling that this might not be so recent an article. *The rendering posted at the end is of the preliminary design for the tower, which in more recent renderings looks a lot more shard-of-glassy and transparent. *The redesign may well have been a result of a public inquiry following the building's initial approval.

  4. #4

  5. #5

    Default The Shard of Glass

    http://www.londonbridgetower.com

    There's a nice rendering from street level (not the one on the site) I can't find anymore.

  6. #6

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    The transparent structure at the top makes me think of an uncompleted construction, which is a brilliant way of eluding the typical flat roof/spire alternative.

    I also think of Nouvel's Tour Sans Fins (again...)



    The above rendering doesn't show clearly the similarity of the tops, but there's one.

  7. #7

    Default The Shard of Glass

    They disintegrate. Also Childs's original idea for ground zero.

  8. #8

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    Quote: from Christian Wieland on 12:36 pm on Aug. 1, 2003
    They disintegrate. Also Childs's original idea for ground zero.
    I neve thought I'd see the words "original idea" and "Childs" in the same sentence.

  9. #9

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    Okay, initial idea.

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    Default The Shard of Glass

    List of prospective, u/c, and completed London skyscrapers over 400 feet, as listed by ss.com:

    London Bridge Tower, Southwark (approved)
    1017 feet, 66 stories

    Columbus Tower, Tower Hamlets (proposed)
    778 feet, 61 stories

    One Canada Square, Canary Wharf (current tallest)
    771 feet, 50 stories

    122 Leadenhall Street, City of London (proposed)
    758 feet, 48 stories

    The Minerva Building, City of London (proposed)
    712 feet, 53 stories

    One North Quay, Canary Wharf (proposed)
    708 feet, 44 stories

    One Riverside South, Canary Wharf (proposed)
    702 feet, 44 stories

    Three North Quay, Canary Wharf (proposed)
    667 feet, 38 stories

    8 Canada Square, Canary Wharf
    655 feet, 45 stories

    25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf
    655 feet, 45 stories

    British Telecom Tower, Bloomsbury-Fitzrovia
    625 feet

    Two Riverside South, Canary Wharf (proposed)
    619 feet, 38 stories

    Tower 42/NatWest Building, City of London
    600 feet, 43 stories

    Heron Tower, City of London (approved)
    600 feet, 42 stories

    Vauxhall Tower, St. George's Wharf, Lambeth (proposed)
    593 feet, 49 stories

    30 St Mary Axe, City of London (under construction)
    590 feet, 41 stories

    Crossharbour Tower, Greenwich (proposed)
    532 feet, 53 stories

    One Churchill Place, Canary Wharf (under construction)
    513 feet, 32 stories

    25 Bank Street, Heron Quays, Canary Wharf (under construction)
    502 feet, 33 stories

    40 Bank Street, Heron Quays, Canary Wharf (under construction)
    502 feet, 33 stories

    10 Upper Bank Street, Heron Quays, Canary Wharf (under construction)
    495 feet, 32 stories

    Guy's Hospital Tower, Southwark
    469 feet, *34 stories

    70 Marsh Wall, Tower Hamlets (proposed)
    457 feet, 46 stories

    One Croydon Gateway, Tower Hamlets (approved, same site as 70 Marsh Wall)
    443 feet, 30 stories

    British Airways London Eye, Lambeth
    443 feet

    West End Green, City of Westminster (proposed)
    436 feet, 28 stories

    New Wembley Stadium, Brent (under construction)
    436 feet

    Grand Union Building, Paddington (approved)
    433 feet, 29 stories

    City Point, City of London
    417 feet, 36 stories

    Millennium Hotel, Millennium Dome site, Greenwich (proposed)
    417 feet, floor count remains to be determined

    Euston Tower, Camden
    408 feet, 36 stories

    Shakespeare Flats, Barbican Centre, City of London
    404 feet, 43 stories

    Lauderdale Flats, Barbican Centre, City of London
    404 feet, 43 stories

    Cromwell Flats, Barbican Centre, City of London
    404 feet, 42 stories

    (Edited by TLOZ Link5 at 6:00 pm on Aug. 1, 2003)

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    Default The Shard of Glass

    Quote: from Fabb on 10:16 am on Aug. 1, 2003
    The transparent structure at the top makes me think of an uncompleted construction, which is a brilliant way of eluding the typical flat roof/spire alternative.

    I also think of Nouvel's Tour Sans Fins (again...)
    Ihave been following LBT for about a year now and it would be a shame of Heritage does not approve the tower. I am proud to have signed the petition sent to the Prime Minister supporting this project.

    I also think of TSF when I think of LBT. They also are similar in how they are vertically organized. Both towers use areas along their heights to collect light and bring it into the tower's mass. There is still a chance that TSF might get built... so says Nouvel as late as 2001. He and Piano are among the greatest. Zumthor too, but he has yet to do a tall building.

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    Isn't the building outside of the so-called "lines of sight?" *I mean, Guy's Tower is only a few blocks away from it; not to mention that most of the tall buildings proposed for The City have not been opposed by EH either. *They derided the original design as "a spike through the heart of London," but Piano, as mentioned before, revised--even improved--his design to compromise with them. *I think LBT has an incredibly good chance of being built.

  13. #13

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    Hopefully, you're right.
    The first version was in the form of a 390-m shard of glass.

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    I'd be happy if they plopped this in Downtown Manhattan.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by NyC MaNiAc
    I'd be happy if they plopped this in Downtown Manhattan.
    It would be a great addition to the skyline.

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