Designing a VT strategy for one of the tallest buildings in the City of London

by John Stopes

This article was first presented at the 10th Symposium on Lift & Escalator Technologies,

22 Bishopsgate is on the site of a failed development formerly known as “The Pinnacle.” The ambition for what was to bear the nickname “Helter-Skelter”(Figure 1) was for it to be not only the tallest building in the City of London, but also an architectural icon. Its articulated shape at the top gave it its nickname. Considering the financial climate of London at that time, it also needed to be economical to enable funders and developers to realize sufficient profit. The original plan was not only inefficient, but also expensive to build and, therefore, the reason it failed. The main core had been constructed, including the basement floors, up to level six. Yet, even that progress" "faltered, as it was built a couple of floors at a time as funds became available. Eventually, it stalled altogether and became known as “The Stump” (Figure 2). The City of London became desperate for change.

City leaders courted funders and eventually made a deal with the original owners. A feasibility study commenced. The original “Helter-Skelter” architects had a major split in their London practice at the partner level, and a new practice was formed from the ashes. They had employed most of the original team and, due to their intimate knowledge of the site and all its challenges, were invited to look at a new scheme.

Shortly afterward, an additional company was invited to act as a multidisciplinary engineering consultant covering mechanical, electrical and plumbing and specialist services such as fire and life safety; façade access; environmental impact; and, of course, vertical transportation (VT). This journey began in 2012 and is yet to be completed. However, the first occupants are beginning to move in.