The Leadenhall Building City
122 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 1LR
The Leadenhall Building from architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and developers British Land and Oxford Properties is the latest addition to the London skyline.
It sits right opposite Richard Rogers’ earlier and iconic Lloyds of London building and if the Lloyds building exposes its steel clad arteries as a riposte to the travails of the insurance business of the time of its construction, its neighbour has an impervious monumental magnificence that is testament to the brute power of the financial service industry that will inhabit it. The £500m structure is better known as the “Cheesegrater” and its idiosyncratic wedge shape was born out of necessity as much as artistic vision because any design on this site had to protect the view from Fleet St to St Pauls Cathedral.
I was invited to the press launch and was given the wonderful opportunity to have a pre-opening tour.
From the outside the building exudes an overwhelming sense of power and motion articulated by an upward sweep that carries the eye to the top. And it was to the top of the building in the fastest scenic lifts in Europe that we were going in the company of construction architect Andy Young.
There are 24 of the scenic ‘smart’ lifts serving different groups of floors that can be called by your ID card as you swipe in at the entrance thus relieving bottlenecks at peak periods. As the lift engineering is all exposed it has been designed specially by Andy and his team.
The Cheesegrater rises 52 floors above ground (224 metres) and is held together by a fully triangulated and very rigid steel frame around the outside.This allows all the functional elements to be exposed. Construction began in 2011 and was completed in summer 2014. It is the first building in London over 200 m to get an excellent energy usage rating. This is partly achieved by the use of double sheets of glass with blinds that move the heat to the outside which means less need for air-con in the summer.
With its extraordinary views and super-modern technology it’s no wonder that the office space in the Cheesegrater is fast being let out-insurance giant Aon are moving their global headquarters into the building for instance-but commercial considerations aside it is a fantastic addition to the reconfiguration of London’s skyscape.