Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 

 Willis Building Technical Tour
Conference Technical Tour
June 13, 2013
Steven Henry, CTBUH Design & Production Manager

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See the report on the 2013 London Conference

The tour of 51 Lime Street, also known as Willis Building, started with a trip straight to the top floor. The host, Carmine Bilardello, Senior Vice President at Willis Group, was quick to impress the delegates with a first stop at the 23rd floor’s expansive balcony. Delegates took their time absorbing the breathtaking, sweeping views of the City of London, with the sounds of the busy street life below making their way up to the open-air terrace.
Delegates visit the 23rd floor balcony to start the tour
Presentations followed in the executive board room, where Ian Whitby of Foster + Partners gave some insights into the architecture of the building. The tower had to strike a careful balance within the existing historic context. The design took several steps to respect the relationship to the 1986 Lloyd’s Building directly across Lime Street. Willis’ form concaves away from, and steps down toward Lloyd’s. The impact of the the building on the skyline behind Lloyd’s was also carefully considered, so as not to distract from its neighbor, yet still hold its own presence.
Ian Whitby of Foster + Partners presents on the architecture of the building
Andy Highton at Stanhope presented on the development and construction of the building. He described how the distinctive saw-tooth façade developed as a solution to mitigate solar heat gain, without having to use any sort of external louvers or shading. Bilardello’s argument against allowing external louvers back in design development was, “how the heck will we clean them?” The session concluded with Andrew Dellow presenting briefly on the interiors of the building.
The 15th floor staff cafeteria
The tour then took delegates to the rooftop mechanical floor, which houses several massive backup generators to keep the building functional in the event of a power outage. The 15th floor houses a large staff cafeteria, which connects by stairs up to the 16th floor open-air balcony. Delegates toured the 14th floor to see how a typical open office plan was laid out. The 3rd floor of the building was converted into “Willis House,” a 17-room hotel accommodation for visiting Willis staff. The Basement level houses a large auditorium space, fitness center for Willis employees, and a car park, which is increasingly transitioning spaces into bicycle parking.
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