Breaking the silence

26 Feb 2010

Land Securities restart talks for building 20 Fenchurch Street ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower

Shelved for 18 months, the provocative plans for an office tower at 20 Fenchurch street in London, penned by Rafael Viñoly, are now being ‘dusted down’ in the hope of a possible restart, according to a spokesperson for property giants Land Securities. Part of the ‘dusting down’ process is the request for construction quotes from various companies which will help decide whether the so nicknamed ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower can go ahead.

“We said in January that we were planning on dusting it down,” Director of Corporate Communications Donal McCabe said, noting that now seemed a sensible time to do so with construction costs notably reduced.

While estimates are being collated, McCabe was careful to advise that nothing is certain under present circumstances. Asked whether construction would likely commence by the end of the year, he said: “I don’t think we can take it as a given…

“We have said before that it is very unlikely that we would speculatively build without a partner. There are a chain of things we would have to consider.”

20 Fenchurch was a controversial project to begin with. The 509ft tall building was nicknamed the Walkie Talkie due to its unconventional widening at both head and foot of the tower. Planning has been approved twice for the structure, the second time following a recall by Secretary of State Ruth Kelly for public enquiry. English Heritage had called the tower ‘oppressive and overwhelming’. Viñoly however feels the building is fitting in its surroundings: “London today is one of the most interesting architectural laboratories in recent history,” he said. “We designed 20 Fenchurch Street to respect the city’s historic character, following the contour of the river and the medieval streets that bound the site, while further contributing to the evolution of the high-rise building type.”


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