It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like London’s most prestigious on-again off-again skyscraper – The Pinnacle – could finally be on the road to construction.
The global recession has a lot to answer for, and the Pinnacle was just one of many victims.
The so-called Helter-Skelter tower is a stalled skyscraper that was earmarked for London’s financial district. The original plans, submitted in 2005 and passed in 2006, detailed an ambitious and futuristic tower that would spiral skywards to a height of 945ft and provide a prestigious home for big-money firms in the City of London.
It was set to bring close to 1 million sq ft of Grade A office space to the capital’s chief banking district. The first foundations were laid in 2008 and then, as the recession took hold, the 64-storey Pinnacle was repeatedly put on hold.
Today, just a few concrete levels are in place and Londoners have begun referring to the tower – which should have been the UK’s second tallest skyscraper – as “the Stump”.
Redesigning The Pinnacle
2013 was set to be the year that The Pinnacle grinds back into action. But amid legal battles between the Tower’s Saudi owners and its building contractors, it seems as though the respective parties have had their focus firmly planted elsewhere.
Now, all that could be about to change. According to the Architect’s Journal, a glimmer of hope in the form of a redesign – which should make construction cheaper – could put The Pinnacle back on track.
Architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, the tower’s original designers, have been successfully retained despite the attempts of rival architectural firms to take over the re-design process. Originally, the design included a spectacular spiralling, curved glass structure, with each piece of glass requiring bespoke cutting and shaping. But in the face of soaring construction costs – fast approaching £1 billion – it is believed that this part of the design has now been altered to cut costs on the project.
The redesigns are expected within the next two weeks, and could even include a taller specification for the Tower. The structure is already set to soar over other landmark London office buildings including the Gherkin, Heron Tower and Canary Wharf, and will be second in height only to the astronomical Shard (1,016 ft).
Reports suggest that it is harder now than ever before to gain funding for development projects, and developers are also struggling to secure tenants for high-profile buildings. Upon completion in 2012, The Shard reportedly had no financial tenants lined up, and little letting interest. In contrast, when the Gherkin opened in 2004 every floor had been pre-let.
It is a marked reminder of ongoing financial caution and the lack of business confidence that surrounds the UK economy. This is also evident in new trends such as the conversion of office space into housing, and the renewed interest in regional cities over London. And while various reports claim that business optimism and London’s commercial property market are gaining in strength, the capital’s cautious office space market and the smattering of half-built skyscrapers suggests there is still a long way to go.
In times like these, it can become a buyer’s market. With demand and funding faltering, business centre owners and operators may be able to capitalise by negotiating favourable rents on prime office properties throughout London. This could be a key moment to follow the lead of business centre providers like Landmark PLC, which launched exquisite flexible office space in the prestigious and high-profile Heron Tower, and secure a new location in a recognisable London landmark.