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    Swiss Re Tower by Foster and Partners

    by Don Barker

    During construction, London's newest highrise conjured up many emotions from visitors and locals alike: here was a building that would bring a major change to the skyline. It became affectionately known as the "Gherkin," but was it worth it? Was it a white elephant?

    Officially known as Swiss Re Tower, the building at 30 St. Mary Axe, designed by Foster and Partners, has won critical acclaim including the 2004 Stirling Prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Set in the center of the City, London's financial center, the building's distinctive shape has already made it a recognizable landmark.

    The 590-foot- (180-meter-) high, 40-story, 76,400-square-meter Swiss Re Tower is said to be London's first environmental skyscraper. Its aerodynamic, glazed shape minimizes wind loads and maximizes natural light and ventilation, reducing the building's energy consumption to 50 percent of that of a traditional large office building. As a working environment, it offers unequalled views of the surrounding city.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    London's distinctive new Swiss Re Tower, at 30 St. Mary Axe, designed by Foster and Partners.
    Photo: Nigel Young/ Foster and Partners

    ArchWeek Image

    The glazed tower is in London's historic financial district.
    Photo: Don Barker

     

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