addition to Bloomberg’s own events. The ‘pre-function’ space is a white circular room with a woven artwork by Pae White with ancillary spaces off it. Adjacent is a 250-seat auditorium complete with a ‘voice lift’ system that enables free-flowing communication by avoiding the need to hold microphones. It also has Huddersfield- made worsted wool panelling – generally, materials have been sourced and manufactured in the UK where possible. The spaces can be (and have already been) used for a variety of functions, from major political speeches, to events for the Mithraeum – the Roman Temple of Mithras restored by Bloomberg and now housed in the basement of the building as a free public amenity.

The building’s structural frame is the same Derbyshire sandstone as the Magistrates Court, helping it sit comfortably in its surroundings

unassuming face to its neighbours. These include another Foster + Partners office building, the more outwardly flamboyant The Walbrook – finished in 2007. Bloomberg’s chunky Derbyshire sandstone frame combined with large bronze ventilation and shading fins covering its facades offers a simultaneously elegant, and polite addition to the streetscape. In addition to its similar height to nearby buildings, such as the adjacent Magistrates’ Court, the fact the building’s structural frame is that same Derbyshire sandstone as that of the court also helps it sit comfortably in its surroundings. The client could have created a much higher glass edifice as commonly seen recently in the City, as project architect Michael Jones confirms. “If he’d wanted to, Mike could have built up to 22 stories over part of this site, it could have been a high rise.” He adds: “He is a rare individual who practices what he preaches.” It was no small challenge to accommodate 1.1 million ft2

of floor in

such a modest building height – also constrained due to viewing corridors from St Paul’s Cathedral. Despite this, as Michael Jones puts it, some “breathing space” was achieved. “Various interventions and cuts were made into the mass once we had achieved it, to deliver both public spaces and routes. There was a strong desire line through the site from commuters.”

Building intrigue

Rather than present a typical square corporate lobby, there are various stages of entering the building which unveil its nature in an intriguing way. There are two spaces for public and community events, in


The sense of theatre is dialled up as you enter the spectacular lobby (pictured on facing page), which is a dramatic contrast to the somewhat sober exterior. The ‘Vortex’ is a double-height, exciting space with curving sides faced with American oak, the entire lobby being a ‘reciprocal structure’ whereby each of the timber shells “relies on the other to stand up,” as Jones explains. It contains little apart from a set of turnstiles, a smallish reception desk, and a two-sided silvery artwork by Oliver Elisasson located in the oculus (its top side viewable from the atrium above). Jones says that the finishes play off traditional English design. “It’s literally a wood-panelled lobby with a twist, and continuing the referencing of classical English architecture, it’s a Regency blue ceiling.” He says it reinterprets some of the “quintessentially English ideas that you see around the City,” one of which is to have a contrasting restrained exterior and flamboyant interior – which Bloomberg London emulates. He cites the 1920s Lutyen’s bank now converted into The Ned, as an inspiration for the way Bloomberg’s unveils a more dynamic personality the deeper you go. The big ‘reveal’ still doesn’t happen until you take a lift from the lobby up to the sixth floor, and step into The Pantry. This is a slightly misleading name (arising from its snack bar) for what is a cavernous communal area, and a feast for the senses. You are greeted by an amazing view of St Paul’s through huge glazing units, and a green wall, and realise the ceiling is sparkling. That’s because it’s made up of two and a half million polished metal ‘petals’, reflecting light from the LEDs dotted around them. Above, a bronze ramp spirals up through the heart of the building.


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