1 Undershaft: Green light for London's latest record-breaking skyscraper

Updated 5th December 2016
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1 Undershaft: Green light for London's latest record-breaking skyscraper
Written by Thomas Page, CNN
Some commentators think Brexit will clamp the brakes on growth in the UK. London's skyline clearly didn't get the memo. Plans for 1 Undershaft, set to become the City of London's tallest skyscraper, have been formally approved, paving the way for construction of the 1,016 feet high tower.
Dubbed "The Trellis," 1 Undershaft will rise to the same height as The Shard -- the tallest building in European Union -- due to its slightly elevated platform north of the River Thames.
Containing 1.4 million square feet of office space across 73 floors, it will also have restaurants, retail space and an education center in collaboration with the Museum of London. And, unlike The Shard, 1 Undershaft will have a free public viewing gallery at its peak -- the UK's tallest.
From the top the public will have views down on the City, including 30 St Mary Axe, otherwise known as "The Gherkin" and the 122 Leadenhall Street, aka "The Cheesegrater." 1 Undershaft will tower above 122 Leadenhall Street, at present the tallest building in the city, by a substantial 280 feet.
The tower, anticipated to open in the next decade, was designed by Eric Parry and commissioned by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings Limited as part of the company's plan to develop tall buildings in capitals around the world. While the City of London's Planning and Transport Committee has approved a resolution to grant permission on 1 Undershaft, the design is still subject to a satisfactory Section 106 -- an agreement between developers and the local council on the building's wider impact on the area (i.e. public space or surrounding roads).
"We are delighted," says Parry. "1 Undershaft represents the very best of British architecture and will set new standards for the City in terms of comfort, quality and environmental sustainability."
The architect described the decision as "a vote of confidence in the City of London," at a time when fears abound that a "hard Brexit," in which Britain would leave the European single market, could threaten the viability of many operations within the City.
Paris and German's financial hub Frankfurt have been mooted as alternative locations for European headquarters, but investment and a buoyant attitude from the likes of Aroland Holdings may have companies thinking twice before decamping to La Defense or elsewhere.

Make room for the tech giants

Uneasiness may be percolating through parts of the financial sector, but multiple tech giants are doubling down when it comes to real estate in the English capital. Earlier this month Google unveiled plans to build on its King's Cross campus, northwest of the City.
The exterior shape of Google's Heatherwick Studio/BIG-designed King's Cross headquarters.
The exterior shape of Google's Heatherwick Studio/BIG-designed King's Cross headquarters. Credit: Google
The design, a collaboration between Heatherwick Studio and Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is firmly under wraps, with only a vague exterior outline released by the internet giant.
What is known is that the 650,000 square foot building will push the company's total office space to over one million square feet at the 67-acre site -- enough room for 7,000 so-called "Googlers."
The new headquarters -- the first wholly owned and designed by Google outside the US -- follows the release earlier this year of an updated design for the company's Mountain View site in California (also designed by Heatherwick and Ingels).
Google CEO Sundar Pichai stressed that the company is "committed to the UK," while London mayor Sadiq Khan described that commitment as "very welcome," as well as "demonstrating that London is open to business" -- a familiar rallying cry of Khan's, post-referendum.
Meanwhile Facebook last week announced a hiring spree, increasing the company's headcount in London by 50%, creating 500 new jobs ahead of a planned move to Fitzrovia in 2017.

Onwards and upwards

1 Undershaft will come as welcome relief for firms battling it out to secure prime office space in London -- on average $102 per square foot per annum according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank. It won't be alone, however.
A report by New London Architecture in March 2016 listed proposals for 119 buildings 20 storeys or more in the previous 12 months, with 89 "tall" buildings under construction at the time.
Time will tell how many proposals survive the post-referendum jitters. If the financial crisis of 2007 showed the architecture world anything, it was that new buildings are among the first investments to fall through.
That being said, one planned skyscraper in the City that looks to be on track is 22 Bishopsgate. PLP Architecture's 912 feet tower will, for a time, be the tallest in the City. With an estimated completion date of 2019, it's safe to predict 22 Bishopsgate will have at least a few years in the sun, before being eclipsed by 1 Undershaft.