Tall & Urban News

London Skyscraper in Question as Investor Pulls Out

1 Undershaft is set to replace the Aviva Tower.
1 Undershaft is set to replace the Aviva Tower.
06 August 2019 | London, United Kingdom

Asian developer Perennial Real Estate Holdings has dealt a blow to Eric Parry Architects’ approved plans to build the tallest building in the City of London.

The Singapore firm decided not to use an option it had to invest in the proposed scheme, a 73-story office-led skyscraper, which is set to replace the Aviva Tower next to the Gherkin.

Eric Parry Architects won consent for the 1 Undershaft proposals for Aroland Holdings in November 2016, with Perennial immediately securing the right to acquire 20 percent of the company, which owns the existing Aviva Tower building. Formerly known as the Commercial Union building, the 118-meter-tall Miesian block by GMW dates back to 1969.

Perennial’s option, based on an estimated existing £330 million (US$402 million) value of the Aviva Tower, lapsed on 1 August 2019.

Perennial said in a statement: “As the timing of the redevelopment for the Aviva Tower is uncertain, the call option was not exercised, and the option period will not be extended.”

With construction still not underway on site, the latest blow will prompt questions about the future of the project.

If built, the tower will stand 295 meters above ground level, only a few meters shorter than Renzo Piano’s 306-meter-tall Shard across the river.

“If built, the tower will stand 295 meters above ground level.”

It would house 132,000 square meters of office space, 2,178 square meters of shops on the lower ground and ground floors, a 1,220-square-meter restaurant on floor 70, and a 2,930-square-meter free public viewing gallery and education center on levels 71-72.

There will also be an elliptical sunken public space on the lower level of the site, similar to Broadgate Circle near Liverpool Street Station.

Council members of the City of London’s Planning and Transportation Committee said in 2016 that approval of the plans showed the City was open for business following the Brexit vote five months earlier.

Eric Parry hailed the approval as a vote of confidence in the City of London. He said three years ago: “1 Undershaft will crown the cluster of tall buildings and will be a tower London can be truly proud of. The most important thing with the building—and any building in the denser world of the Eastern Cluster—is that it provides great public amenities.”

“The elegance of the building is one thing, but the logic of the design all stemmed from the idea of maximizing the public realm of the site… by levitating the body of the building and pulling the core to the west side, you maximize that space,” he stated.

The practice declined to comment on Perennial’s decision.

For more on this story, go to Architects’ Journal.