British Secretary of State John Prescott last month ended months of public inquiry, giving his approval to the new 42-story Heron Tower, designed by the London office of architect Kohn Pedersen Fox Assoc., New York City. The $250 million project is expected to unleash a wave of new tall buildings in Great Britain's capital.
Developed by Heron Corp., the mixed-use project is also known as 110 Bishopsgate. In explaining his decision, Prescott last month told local press that he considers the building to be "of first class design quality and sustainable in its own right, and enhances the quality of its immediate location and wider settings."
Critics had argued that the structure was disproportionate to its historic surroundings and would spoil the London skyline. However, Prescott told the BBC last month that he felt confident 110 Bishopsgate would be "elegant, graceful and well-proportioned." Prescott has long taken an active interest in the project. In February 2001, in fact, when he was Environment Secretary, Prescott directed that Heron's planning application be referred to him instead of the city planning authority.
At press time, Prescott was also expected to rule this month on a proposal for the new Renzo Piano-designed London Bridge Tower. Nicknamed "The Shard," the 66-story glass structure would be Europe's tallest building. If given the nod soon, its tentative completion date is 2007 (BD&C 4/02, p. 14).
Despite approval from the Borough of Southwork and wide support, the Shard proposal for a site adjacent to London Bridge also had been called in for a public inquiry to air concerns over rail links and other infrastructure needs. English Heritage, a public interest group, also opposed its 1,016-ft height.