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February 23, 2016

To understand how real estate in London’s financial district has adapted to ‘post-crash conservatism’, look no further than 22 Bishopsgate

Planned for the site of the never-completed Pinnacle or ‘Helter Skelter’ building, 22 Bishopsgate makes a break from what’s gone before – both in its design and how occupants will use it.

The City of London’s skyline is now peppered with towers that warrant a nick-name. The ‘Walkie Talkie’ and the ‘Cheese Grater’, for example.  But 22 Bishopsgate may well become the first of many practical, sober, towers with a name that denotes only its address.

22 Bishopsgate will provide its workers with access to leisure, retail, restaurants and bars, as well as the world’s financial markets. A vertical mini-city, it will house about 100 companies and 12,000 employees over 62 storeys.

With the vast majority of residential neighborhoods some miles away and London’s financial district trading both eastwards and westwards, around the clock service has become essential.

Andrew Hawkins, director in JLL’s city investment team says: “If you’re building 1.3 million square feet of office building, it’s got to have a high level of amenity.

“There’s likely to be 24-7 occupiers within the real estate, even though there’s no residential or hotel accommodation.”

He adds: “Retail and leisure will be put in at intervening levels all the way up the building. There will be floors where the lifts ends and you can step out into winter gardens or restaurants or retail.”

Competing with world markets

Elsewhere in the world, particularly in Asia, 60-70-storey buildings are not even considered high. But this property will bring London up to speed with the world’s other high-rise financial districts.

22 Bishopgate’s views, stretching across the City’s conservation area, will provide a sense of wellbeing at work – another of today’s must-haves in an always-on international world.

Meanwhile, tenants can come together in common areas – a benefit considered far more important by today’s corporates than showy architecture.

So, unlike recent City skyscrapers, with their architectural statements or impractical floorplans, 22 Bishopsgate has been designed from the inside out.

“International occupiers like practical, regular, square-sheet floor-plates allowing them to make the space work for them 24-7,” adds Hawkins.

“The local planning authority, the City of London Corporation, told the architects that they wanted something much more conventional for 22 Bishopsgate than recent additions to London’s skyline – something like the towers you see in New York or Singapore.

“They were worried that the City of London’s reputation could be impacted by buildings with showpiece names and wanted to move away from that.”

The building, therefore, not only respects practicalities – all floors are larger than 20,000 square feet – but also the sentiment and business aspirations of the post-financial-crisis City.

He adds: “In today’s financial sector, buildings that are too beautiful or impractical would be considered excessive, frivolous or uneconomical by shareholders.

“Instead there’s a move by the corporation to promote the City’s strong work ethos, centuries’ mercantile tradition and business pre-eminence in the world.

“22 Bishopsgate is designed to reinforce our post-crash financial sector values – conservatism, transparency and honesty. I believe it will.”

Andrew Hawkins
Director - London City Investment

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