One Blackfriars rises along the River Thames in London. This photo was taken from the Monument to the Great Fire of London, a great way to see the city.
One month ago we were in London, marveling at architecture old and new. And there’s a whole lot of new on the way. One of those projects is One Blackfriars. Like much of what’s being built right now around London, it is very distinctively shaped, and gorgeous.
One Blackfriars is a development from Berkeley Group. The 50-storey (no stories here; this is London, after all) glass tower will have 274 apartments and 161 hotel rooms along the south bank of the River Thames. The design is by the architecture firm of SimpsonHaugh and Partners. The general contractor (seriously, as I wandered London and saw this name on lots of new construction, I thought each one would include a large movie-theatre complex. Silly tourist.) is Multiplex. Multiplex is not a place to watch films and eat popcorn; Multiplex is a massive global construction company.
First off, let me assure you I didn’t spend all our time in London taking pictures of tower cranes and construction sites. That would have been a wasted opportunity to see the English countryside and historic buildings. But I like the cranes, so I didn’t ignore them, either.
I make much of the tower cranes in Chicago. We have a lot. 32.5 at the moment, now that No. 508 is being erected. But London? That city has tower cranes. And if you think the counts are close, let me illustrate the gap by showing you two construction projects, with a total of 20 tower cranes between them.
Battersea Power Station
“Massive” is a popular word in England. I heard it to describe a multitude of things. It’s also become somewhat click-baity here in the States. But this Battersea Power Station redevelopment can be described in no other way. It is indeed massive. It will include architecture by Foster + Partners, Gehry Partners, and more. Features will include an elevator up to an observation deck within one of four existing smoke stacks, and the restoration of two old maritime cranes. Ten tower cranes *and* they’re restoring the two Thames-side cranes? Amazing.
Want to know more? (SPOILER ALERT: You do.) Please click this link to learn more about Battersea Power Station.
A cool model of Battersea Power Station on the construction site.
From across the Thames. Do you see 10 tower cranes?
Like the Battersea project, Southbank Place centers around an existing building, this one being the Shell Centre tower. The 27-story building will soon be surrounded by seven more towers, five of which will be residential, with the remaining two serving as offices. Five different architecture firms are contributing designs to this development. Which is, to be honest, also massive. But duh. Why else would it need TEN TOWER CRANES.
I will not attempt to explain any further, as there is too much to know. Click this link to learn more about Southbank Place.
Shell Centre, surrounded by 10 (maybe 11?) tower cranes.
You think Chicago has tower cranes? Okay, yes it does. Chicago does have tower cranes. But London has tower cranes like they’re being given away. Every direction you look, cranes. Turn the corner, another crane. Look to the left, you might see 10 tower cranes. On one site. There might be too much home work to do here, but for now, just have a few photos. If I figure out what the words should be, I’ll post ’em later.
The famous “bent” crane at 22 Bishopsgate.
Not tower cranes, but still cool.
100 Bishopsgate. Yes, there’s a logo on the tower crane.
The London Eye, and a bunch of cranes.
Madness. This is Southbank Place. There are TEN here.
Zoom in. I count art least 12 tower cranes in this shot from Tower Bridge.