After a decade, the Pinnacle is finally in progress

3 September 2015

As in Ireland, in the UK a huge number of projects were either delayed, abandoned or stalled as the country fell into recession. Perhaps the most famous of these schemes, a proposed 288 metre tower in the City of London, has had many names as a consequence of changes of ownership over the past 10 years.

Originally called the Bishopsgate Tower, then renamed the Pinnacle and nicknamed “the Helter Skelter”, the scheme is now branded 22 Bishopsgate. However, it is known as “the Stump”, as construction halted in March 2012 with only the first seven storeys of the core of the 63-storey tower complete.

Designed by US architect Kohn Pedersen Fox for fund manager Union Investment, the original 88,000 sq m office scheme was approved in April 2006. Test-piling and demolition started later that year.

In 2007 Arab Investments bought the site and signed a preconstruction contract with Brookfield Multiplex in August of that year. Piling began in 2008, excavation in 2009 and, by 2011, the core was rising out of the ground. But in 2012 all work ceased as the developer had reportedly failed to secure a key tenant.

After being on hold for three years, earlier this year developer Lipton Rogers and fund manager Axa announced that they had bought the scheme and planned a redesigned tower. Brookfield Multiplex has been re-employed as preconstruction adviser and a new 62-storey glass-clad tower designed by PLP Architects is to be submitted for planning this year.

Unlike at the Central Bank of Ireland the above-ground works at the Pinnacle look likely to be demolished, as predicted earlier this year by Nick Ling, technical director at global engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald, who told Construction Manager: “I doubt that the stub will survive. I think that the building will be brought back to foundations.

“Then the engineer will have the normal challenge of building a substructure to transfer the loads of the redesigned building to the foundations. This might require the sinking of additional piles and dealing with the resultant differential settlement issues.”

Ling believes engaging Brookfield Multiplex removes some potential
legal and insurance complications.

“In many cases, if you use a building’s original foundations, there is the legal issue of who is responsible for guaranteeing the work as fit for purpose. Employing the original contractor is one solution.”

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