24 October 2017
The building, designed by RSHP’s Graham Stirk with Laing O’Rourke as the main contractor and Arup as the structural engineers, was described by the judges as a “world-class project [which] is an exemplar for large commercial buildings”.
The Leadenhall Building is a 48-storey skyscraper in the City of London. Originally built as a speculative office building by British Land, it is now owned by CC Land. The tower is steel-framed, and the use of steel is fundamental to the building, with steel bracing visibly integrated into and celebrated within the frame of the building.
The lifts were placed on the vertical north core elevation, meaning that there is no need for a central concrete core, with stability provided by the steel ‘megaframe’ on the outside of the building. This steel design allows the floors to be open and flexible, with only six internal columns even in the largest floorplan of 43m x 48m. This provides an excellent ratio of commercial, lettable space and a great environment for tenants, who can use the central space usually occupied by services as communal, office, or desk space.
In a symbol of how strongly the practice aligns with this open, democratic reinterpretation of the traditional office building, in 2015 the practice moved into the building, and now runs its studio from the 14th floor.
The other key feature of the steel frame of the building is the large new public space provided at ground level, adding a half-acre extension to the existing public space in the adjacent piazza of St Helen’s Square.
The building’s construction was one of the fastest pieces of large-scale construction work to take place in the UK. Following the economic downturn, work recommenced in September 2011, with the superstructure competed in just 11 months. Because of the tight location, every piece possible was prefabricated offsite and brought to site to a strict timetable. Each part of the megaframe was fabricated in Wolverhampton, coated with intumescent paint for fire protection and sent to site according to a strict timescale. The first tenants moved into the building in 2015.
The judge’s comment in full:
This project had a committed client, architectural and engineering excellence, fabrication precision and construction ingenuity and innovation. They all combined to make a project whose achievements are even greater than the sum of the parts.
Structural steel is rigorously controlled to generate an architecture that is clear and legible throughout the building. Like most ground-breaking projects there were lessons to be learned, but the client and the team persevered to achieve final success.
This world-class project is an exemplar for large commercial buildings.