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July 06, 2017, 01:07 PM

Bloomberg Place's unique take on reuse

By Michael Morel

Bloomberg Place CC by 2.0

London East, UK - Last week I wrote about London's failed grandiose Garden Bridge project. This week we turn to a far more discreet tribute to green design, and one that has actually materialised-Bloomberg Place.

Beginning life in 2010 with a distinctively pre-Brexit outlook, the ambitious building will serve as the European headquarters for the financial media giant Bloomberg, owned by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Seven years later, the first employees are scheduled to move in this autumn.

Composed of two large triangular blocks connected by an elevated bridge, the structure's innovative office layout is designed to inspire productivity and facilitate collaboration. Occupying 3.2 acres of land and reaching eight stories high, it offers 1.1 million square footage of self-described "sustainable office" space and features public outdoor green spaces.

Much has been made of Bloomberg Place's environmental accolades. It earned the highest possible rating from the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), a worldwide sustainability standard that evaluates procurement, design, construction, and building operation. Part of that rating was gained from its shifting exterior of bronze panels which allow London's "fresh" air to circulate into the building. The flexible surface also gives the building a distinctive yet modest look.

In a conscious departure from the trend toward gleaming glass towers, Bloomberg Place uses over 14,000 tons of steel and aluminum, and is said to be the biggest stone project in London in 100 years. Of course, BREEAM's standards take materials into account, but I found no mention of the use of reclaimed materials in Bloomberg Place's construction.

Yet in one very special sense the building is a commendable example of reuse. During the original excavation of the site in 1954, the ancient Roman Temple of Mithras was discovered and relocated. Boasting tens of thousands of artefacts, archaeologists discovered some of the oldest evidence of human occupation in London at the site.

In an effort to commemorate the history and significance of the location, the ruins were returned to the site and reincorporated into the building's design. A two storey subterranean museum was constructed to protect the temple, and a street level arcade was built to re-establish a section of an ancient Roman road known as Watling Street.

In another intriguing design twist, Bloomberg Place will not have a cafeteria or supply more than coffee and snacks for employees. The idea is to encourage workers to get outside during lunch and patronise in the local economy. This is a stark contrast from the supposedly forward-looking 21st century office designs of tech giants like Google, known for their all inclusive resort-like environments.

Perhaps both concepts make sense within their different surroundings. Silicon Valley's sprawling layout is not conducive to walking, so reducing incentives for employees to drive seems sensible. In contrast, Central London is ideal for walking. That said, this does not bode well for Google's new inclusive office building at King's Cross.

Evening Standard on Bloomberg Place

Story Type:  News

ID: 101031

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