Not sure the name of this building. If you know the name, architect, year of completion, and architectural style...please inform us.
Here's David Blaine during his latest stunt...
Norman Foster. Finished either late last year or early this year. It's the home of the London City Council I think.
Definitely evokes a big ship. Check out those suits in the top-floor office.
It is nicknamed "the egg" in London. It has quite a prominent site on the Thames across from the City.
Fat and ugly. Much less sucessful than the gherkin.
Sometimes i feel like the odd one out, i love this building and so do most people in london. This and swiss Re and the eye are londons claim to fame, 'big ben' (ugh) has been finally forgotten.
Norman foster is reshaping the world and hes doing it really really well!
P.S. the top floor is public observation deck, those are tourists not 'suits'.
Don't worry, Em. No one's forgotten Saint Paul's or Big Ben. At least I haven't.
I was in London in August, and after visiting the Tower of London noticed that accross the river. It's actually London's New City Hall.
All the design alternatives were good too. But this design is the best of them. Foster is Great! Hopefully NYC will get some of this good. But as always its the decision of the client, and if chooses to accept the architects visionary.
I love modern buildings, more than any other type, like plenty of people.
And im so glad that things are finally happening in london because there is only so much church-style architecture that you can take!!!
November 23, 2003
Conserving Everyone's Energy but His Own
By JAMES S. RUSSELL
Norman Foster's building for the Greater London Authority (2001).
An oval that appears to droop woozily to the south like a melting ice cream cone may not be the average person's idea of what a city hall should look like. But this is approximately the shape the architect Norman Foster gave the home of London's new local government, the Greater London Authority, completed in 2001.
Amid the hodgepodge along the South Bank of the Thames, this structure is as strange and foreign as a meteorite — to which it bears some resemblance. Though it may look whimsical, however, the building — created by Britain's most famous and prolific architect at a cost of some $81 million — is anything but. Just a glance at the 167 buildings that Lord Foster, 68, has completed worldwide, or his 80-some other projects currently in design, is enough to convince anyone that whimsy is not in the man's vocabulary.
Lord Foster's success has been achieved through an almost gee-whiz belief in the expressive possibilities of technology, inspired by American experiments in bringing mass-production techniques to building. He first encountered these experiments while on a fellowship at the Yale University School of Architecture in the early 1960's. In the 1970's and 1980's, he rose to fame by creating technology-packed, climate-controlled buildings as elegant as any in the world.
A number of his buildings have become landmarks in widely scattered places like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Omaha and Nimes, France. In projects like the Chek Lap Kok Airport and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters (both in Hong Kong) as well as the Great Court of the British Museum in London there are roof-panel systems inspired by aircraft skins, escalators in which the gears and belts are left exposed, stabilizers made with sailing-yacht-style cables and turnbuckles, and apparently weightless skylight systems.
In London's new city hall, Lord Foster and his colleagues at Foster & Partners have turned technological bravura to a more explicitly social agenda: energy conservation. "It's what we're passionate about," said Ken Shuttleworth, a partner in the firm who now designs many of its most important projects, including the city hall.
As if anticipating criticism that the eccentric form of the city hall is just architectural ego hiding behind a public-spirited facade, Mr. Shuttleworth insists that its shape is entirely about conservation. "A sphere has 18 percent less wall area for the same floor area," he explained, which reduces the amount of solar heat that must be removed by air conditioning. The building's southward tilt, with some of the floors slipped over the ones below, further blocks the low winter sun. Mr. Shuttleworth said the total design reduces energy use to about one-fourth that of a conventional commercial building.
There's more drama within. An invisibly suspended ramp uncoils giddily for eight stories over the lofty oval meeting chamber of the 24-member assembly. It serves another purpose; it brings constituents and visitors close to the work of government, and ultimately delivers them, at the building's apex, to a shallow-domed wedge of space that has been dubbed London's "living room." Mr. Shuttleworth literally put those served by government — not the governors — on top.
Foster & Partners, which employs more than 300 architects, achieves great artistic vitality today by mining the expressive potential of low-energy construction. This conversion first came to spectacular fruition in 1997 in Frankfurt, where Lord Foster drilled a full-height atrium right down the middle of the 60-story Commerzbank Tower and punched multistory "sky gardens" out of the exterior, all to make natural ventilation replace the enormous amount of air conditioning that would otherwise be required. In rehabilitating the Berlin Reichstag in 1999, Lord Foster hung a tapering chimney in the Bundestag's assembly chamber for natural ventilation and installed a three-story-high shade that revolves to follow the sun within the building's new transparent dome.
Opening to immediate public acclaim, the renewed Reichstag and its daring design solidified a developing European consensus that important buildings must transcend their everyday functions to represent a community's or a nation's values and aspirations. The threat of pollution-induced climate change is taken so seriously in the continent's largest economies, for example, that important commercial and public buildings are expected to act as research projects, advancing the goal of a building that produces no carbon emissions whatsoever.
Having been founded, to replace the old Greater London Council, in the spirit of anti-big-government conservatism, the Greater London Authority would seem to be an unlikely candidate for such continental idealism. Nevertheless, the acres of glass, the ramp and the inviting "living room" at the top all serve a metaphor that Lord Foster imported from the Reichstag: the literal transparency of governmental processes. (From all over Berlin you can see visitors strolling the spiral ramp that hangs inside the Reichstag dome.) It's certainly apt for a new governing body in London that needs to impress a skeptical electorate with a fresh approach. (On these shores, the best-known accomplishment of London's mayor, Ken Livingston, who works in the building, has been to assess hefty fees on London drivers in an apparently successful effort to reduce congestion.)
It's less clear that the equation between transparent architecture and transparent government will work in London. Though the authority hopes to inspire confidence in open government, it does so in a rather literal manner, without Berlin's tragic history to play against. There, Lord Foster was able to tap into an underlying German faith in art as a means to social betterment — a faith that has somehow survived two world wars and the Holocaust.
Inside the city hall Mr. Shuttleworth doesn't sacrifice beauty to ideals. In the gorgeous Assembly Chamber, an oculus of unusually transparent water-white glass (regular glass has a slight greenish tint) opens the chamber northward through a diagonal fretwork of tubular-steel supports to a splendid vista of the Tower of London and London Bridge. The room is bathed in light as limpid and serene as a Vermeer painting. (This is also part of the low-energy scheme: the Assembly need only switch on the lights for nighttime and televised events.)
There's no architectural finger-wagging; like the engineering innovations (achieved thanks to Ove Arup & Partners) that keep the tilted oval from tipping over, the ecological technologies are invisible, not tacked-on as a reminder of the building's virtue. Indeed, with barely a right angle or a standard piece of steel or glass to be found, the building shows off the sophistication and skill of Lord Foster's construction — skill so highly developed that British architectural critics were stunned when New York failed to embrace his proposal for ground zero. (Instead he's supposed to design one of the office buildings at the World Trade Center site for its developer, Larry A. Silverstein.)
London's city hall is also a reminder of how far the European attitude toward energy conservation and reduction of greenhouse gasses has progressed beyond America's, which remains mired in mid-1980's norms. Along with many talented American architects who would like to turn their artistic skills to environmentally sustainable design, Lord Foster finds the United States only sporadically fertile ground for innovation. In New York, he has designed an intriguingly faceted structure for the Hearst Corporation, but the developer did not ask the firm to use the energy-saving techniques it had pioneered in Europe.
Analogous to London's city hall in its aspiration to gather people together, however, is the James H. Clark Center for medical, engineering and scientific research at Stanford University in California. Dedicated last month, it is intended to promote rapid innovation through the cross-fertilized efforts of some 23 scientific and humanistic disciplines.
In London, Foster & Partners are pushing their ecological program even further in the undulating shape and curved exterior profile of the 10-story Albion Wharf, an office and residential complex under construction next to the firm's Thames-side offices. In the financial district, the suggestive shape of 30 St. Mary Axe, a tower for Swiss Re (for Reinsurance) that will open early next year (see article below), came about from the same kind of sun-angle analysis undertaken for the city hall.
A combination of government incentives and stricter energy regulations in Europe are pushing Lord Foster and his competitors even harder, producing designs Mr. Shuttleworth cannot yet reveal, but which may prove even more spectacular. Perhaps we'll see a Foster & Partners skyscraper in the form of a wind turbine akin to one proposed by another London firm, Future Systems.
While the transparent-government metaphor has particularly motivated Lord Foster, energy conservation lies at the heart of the creative resurgence in European architecture today. Many American architects want to get in on this action; right now they're looking on with envy from the sidelines. Admittedly, enacting a strict energy-conservation regime to make it easier for architects to design interesting buildings is putting the cart before the horse. But it can make what may become the chief architectural project of the next few decades — reducing carbon emissions — go down a great deal easier.
In Europe, after all, the resurgent environmental-building movement started only recently, but it has already gained considerable traction. As Mr. Shuttleworth observes, "My 9-year-old won't even let the tap run when she's brushing her teeth."
James S. Russell is an editor at large for Architectural Reconrd.
Norman Foster's building for the Greater London Authority, seen from within.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
This is our city hall - architect sir norman foster. Famously described by mayor ken livingston as 'a glass bollock'.
very nice building though - there a couple of other new buildings going up next to it at the moment. For years it was just an empty patch of land.