There is a gaping hole at the heart of London’s financial district. Since 2002 plans have been getting drawn up for a skyscraper to fill that hole. The initial plans were scrapped and in June 2005 plans for the Pinnacle, Bishopsgate tower, by architects Khor and Petersen were submitted for approval (planning permission).
The promotional video says it is 288 meters high, 60 floors of innovation and high technology, a vision becoming reality. The City Panning Officer for the City of London, Peter Wynne Rees, explains that it is not only a feat of modern architecture, but a practical necessity for the growth of London’s vital financial services sector. After explaining how the DIFA tower (AKA the Pinnacle) is the tallest of a cluster of new tall buildings to be built, Rees says:
“The city has run out of space for the financial sector, the only way to go is up and the DIFA tower (AKA the Pinnacle) is higher than any,” he says, adding: “We want outstanding architecture. DIFA is a good example of these outstanding pieces of modern architecture that are being constructed in the city.”
Unfortunately the construction of such a huge and expensive building is never as easy as drawing it, and after the plans were approved by all the relevant authorities a slew of delays set its construction back.
Firstly it took the developer Arab Investments 2 years to sign up the contractor, Brookfield construction to build the tower. Arab Investments chose Brookfield in the summer of 2007, but the contracts weren’t signed until January 2009, see here.
Then in October last year, the leader of the team of KPF architects who designed the Pinnacle left KPF and along with 4 other KPF partners formed the company PLP Architecture, and began trying to obtain KPF contracts, including the Pinnacle. Shortly after, Brookfield quashed controversy by saying that KPF would not be changed as architects of the Pinnacle.
Ashley Muldoon, managing director of Brookfield Constructions said: “KPF is remaining on the Pinnacle project to complete it. Brookfield thinks the best way forward for the project is to remain with the architect that designed it.”
While all this was happening, work was progressing well on the site; to look at the site progressing from the demolition of the former building, to construction of the basement levels for the new building, you wouldn’t have thought that financing still wasn’t in place to build the tower proper — that it may all just be an expensive 40ft hole in the ground.
On 26 Feb the Evening Standard covered how Khalid Affara was edging closer to a deal on the pre-let of a further 150,000 square feet of space in the development, to take it past the 400,000 square foot mark, and allow them to finally give the construction green light to Brookfield. There has been no further news on the deal.
None the less construction continues. According to the aforementioned Standard Article Arab Investments has raised sufficient funding to carry on construction until next spring. It is hoped that will give them a sufficient window to pre-let further space, and secure the remaining finance.
Those passionate about Skyscrapers and this one in particular on the Sky Scraper City forum believe that the money will come anyway. They believe this because the fact that office space is running out in London’s financial center, and with projected growth in the sector in the coming years, that it is too good an investment to walk out on, especially given the work already done and money already spent. It makes sense, but only time will really tell.