Go HomeThe Minerva Tower.

Ambitious 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 (!)

The Development.
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.

Project Details.

The 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 original.
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 light.
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 City.
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.

The planning process.
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 not.
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.

Future Prospects.
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.


The original...

...and the new.
Building specs.
Office Tower.
Height - 726ft/ 216m
Floors - 50
Start date - 2004
Completion - 2008