Enhancing the Skyline and Streetscape of London | The Plan
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Enhancing the Skyline and Streetscape of London

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

The unfulfilled dreams of the Italian Futurists and Russian Constructivists are realized in the architecture of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP). Forty years ago, a youthful Richard Rogers teamed with Renzo Piano to design the Pompidou Center in Paris, and its boldly colored ducts and elevators snaking up the façade still have the power to shock and delight. The silvery towers of Lloyd’s Building of London, the cantilevered canopy of the Welsh National Assembly, and the Millennium Dome, suspended from yellow pylons, epitomize the daring of Britain’s High-Tech movement. But Rogers, who was born in Florence, understands that buildings, however bold, must be an integral part of the urban fabric. The newly completed Leadenhall Building, named for the street it faces, is a good neighbor for Lloyd’s Building to the south, Foster’s Swiss Re to the north-east, and two ancient churches. It enriches the ground plane as dramatically as the skyline.
The City of London has a medieval street plan as intricate as that of Florence, and it has survived the great fire of 1666, wartime bombing, and insensitive redevelopment. Treasures from past centuries are scattered amid modern buildings of appalling mediocrity, and the current boom in high-rise construction is likely to exacerbate the congestion. Rafael Viñoly’s grotesquely top-heavy tower on Fenchurch Street (popularly known as the “Walkie-Talkie”), is an augury of horrors to come in a society that values profit over design excellence. That makes the Leadenhall Building - like Piano’s translucent Shard on the south bank of the Thames - all the more remarkable.
RSHP is a collaborative practice. Every Monday morning, a design meeting takes place at the London office during which current projects are discussed and the whole 200-strong team is welcome to attend. Partner Graham Stirk was lead architect on the project and conceived the design for the...

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