property group, Minerva have plans for what will be the tallest
skyscraper in the City - SN.com takes a closer look at the project
and how it's evolved over the past year and a bit.
The current building on the site in the City of London that Minerva
have purchased is one of those little low-rise 60s things that dot
the City. Whilst not being truely horrific like London Wall it adds
little to it's surroundings and is nondescript to say the least.
How things will change (!)
Minerva are one of the up and coming property groups in the U.K
and one that has recently got a reputation for aquistions outside
the property market having been linked to take-over bids of House
of Fraser and Selfridges. Clearly they are aiming for the big-time
seeing the massive potential for money making on a monumental scale
in the City of London, with the project having grown increasingly
more ambitious with each passing stage.
story of Minerva's tower, originally named St Boltophs House after
the neighbouring church is a classic example of how dreams in London
have got larger and larger. Originally a 14 floor building was concieved
on site by Nicholas Grimshaw, literally a 14 floor version of the
Sensing how the market was changing Minerva had an extra 20 floors
added to bring it up to 35floors and 520ft which by London standards
is impressive. After a further four months other design changes
were made and the tower was completely redone and renamed in the
form it is now. The height grew by 200ft and a spire was added that
takes the total height to over 250m making it the Uks tallest building
if it does go ahead and giving over 1million square feet of space.
The design is concieved as a four open books with heights of 92m,
100m, 198m and 217m placed together with the spines of the books
as atriums connecting them together and flooding the offices within
With 8 different fascades it is compeltely asymetric in design it
will appear different from every angle leading to these rather confusing
renderings that seem to show a number of different buildings. Because
each of the four books has its own level which will add a variety
to the height of the building and a certain unpredictability. This
is definitely an original approach to take and will no doubt add
more originality to the geometric shapes already on display in the
Interestingly this tower will also contain public areas as fitting
in with the Mayors demands including an open restaurant and viewing
platform at the top which will be a real asset to all height lovers.
Well thankfully there has been no public inquiry with this despite
the demands from sections of the heritage lobby - to put it crudely
another inquiry so soon after 110 Bishopsgate to look at a skyscraper
in City would be taking the piss.
The tower has progressed smoothly through the planning process so
far having been warmly welcomed by C.A.B.E, supported by the Mayor
and the Corporation of London who are eager to see it built as a
centerpiece for the CIty in the 21st Century.
Despite not touching any protected views some people don't like
its impact on the skyline and complain that it is part of the cluster
spreading ever closer to the Tower of London. You can decide for
yourself from the renderings whether it's impact is negative or
Despite these complaints it seems likely that Minerva's tower will
get an easy ride through the planning process and should be given
full approval by the end of the year.
Given its likelihood of being approved the only thing holding this
particular building back is the economy. The City has experienced
a downturn and whilst the market isn't half as bad as some of the
naysayers claim Minerva will not be building this speculatively.
They will require a 50% take up of the building, some half a million
square feet of space, to go ahead with this although I'd expect
this to be filled rather easily once the tower does get approval
given the high quality of office space and added prestige it provides.
The continuing success of Citypoint and Tower42, even in a downturn,
shows that the lust for highrise office space in the City has not
been sated with near 100% occupancy despite cutbacks in the City.
Even if the worst does happen and the space remains untaken for
some time planning permission is valid for five years and the chances
of it remaining untaken for that long is small.
Whats certain is Minerva will go ahead, the only question is when,
and it could concievably be any time from 2004 onwards.