Page D1.2 . 26 February 2003                     
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    Foster's New City Hall


    A geodesic lattice framework, referred to as a "diagrid structure," supports the building and is, in effect, the largest radiator in London. Most of the horizontal steel elements, each 12 inches (300 millimeters) in diameter, have hot water running through them to heat the atrium space, making extra fittings or pipework unnecessary.

    Many of the building elements, including floor tiles and rubber doormats, are made from recycled materials.

    Making Its Mark on the Thames

    The GLA building is part of a larger development on the south bank of the River Thames known as "More London." There are plans to add office buildings, shops, cafes, and landscaped public spaces to a section of the riverside that has remained undeveloped for decades.

    Like much of Foster's recent work throughout London, GLA opens up old public spaces. More than half of its site is given over to public space, including two large piazzas equal in size to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. A new streetscape will create dramatic vistas of landmarks such as the Tower of London and HMS Belfast, a former naval warship that is permanently docked as a museum.

    An underground road, which gives common access to a service infrastructure shared by all the new buildings, has kept the site completely free of vehicles. This has enabled the creation of a new pedestrian public realm along the river, which will be accessible 24 hours a day.

    It seemed initially that the new city hall would be slightly out of context, given its location near historic landmarks. But as the surrounding buildings rise around it, GLA begins to perform its duty as a trendsetter for the future of London.

    Don Barker is a freelance writer and photographer in London, UK, who has lived and worked in Europe, Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is a contributing editor to ArchitectureWeek.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...


    ArchWeek Image

    A vehicle-free public plaza looks out over the River Thames and London's historic Tower Bridge.
    Photo: Don Barker

    ArchWeek Image

    On the south facade, each story shades the one below to minimize solar heat gain.
    Photo: Don Barker

    ArchWeek Image

    Computer rendering of the interior assembly room and spiraling ramps, generated from the design model built with software from Bentley Systems.
    Image: Foster and Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    Below-grade amphitheater of London's new city hall by Foster and Partners.
    Photo: Don Barker


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

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