Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A British Skyscraper Becomes High Drama Plan to Erect World's 3rd-Tallest Structure

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A British Skyscraper Becomes High Drama Plan to Erect World's 3rd-Tallest Structure

Article excerpt

A plan to erect Europe's tallest building in the heart of London is already well on the way to stirring one of the sharpest planning controversies in the British capital.

If architect Sir Norman Foster has his way and his proposed 1,265-foot Millennium Tower is erected, it will soar far above nearby St. Paul's Cathedral, which is a mere 364 feet.

On a global scale the proposed skyscraper would be only No. 3, falling short of the Petronas Towers (1,477 feet) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Sears Tower (1,453 feet) in Chicago. The design, described by Sir Norman as "elegantly slim" and "a continuous series of curves in different kinds of glass," is creating furious argument among environmentalists and architectural critics. Simon Jenkins, a leading critic, says the 400 million ($620 million) tower would "dwarf every other building nearby." Mr. Jenkins rejects Sir Norman's contention that it would be "a statement of confidence" about the next century, saying: "It's ridiculous to justify it simply by linking it to the millennium. There must be a proper relationship between buildings." 'V' is for very, very tall The proposed tower would be in the shape of a gently rounded, transparent letter V. Sir Norman says the transparency would be achieved by having no elevator cores or heavy internal steel frame. The tower would be built on the site of the Baltic Exchange, in the heart of London's financial district, which was shattered by an IRA terrorist bomb in 1992. It would provide 1.5 million square feet of office space and accommodate up to 8,000 people. Unveiling the plan, Sir Norman said the tower would have a 1,000-foot-high public viewing gallery that would be reached via glass capsules moving up and down the outer walls. A series of "gardens in the sky" would hang between the building's 92 floors. Ambitious and elegant though Sir Norman's design is, it challenges the conviction of many Londoners that the capital's skyline should not be spoiled by huge modern buildings, which clash with the classical outlines of dozens of churches, historic buildings, and bridges. …

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