Saturday, April 14, 2007

Build it up, tear it down

burnt out warehouse, westferry
Despite it being a glorious sunny day today, this post is going to be full of gloomy pictures like the one above (which is a burnt out warehouse/factory/Dixons I passed last week in Westferry, to the south of Docklands). What I suggest you do to counter this visual misery is to listen to another summery song (this time by Acid House Kings) as you read the rest.

leadenhall demolitionThe reason this post is so full of misery is because it's about 122 Leadenhall, which is being demolished to make way for the Leadenhall Building. It's wreathed in scaffold and sheeting (I know what you're thinking, but don't worry; it is licensed scaffolding) so from the square you can't see the extent of the demolition.

P1010715The latest newsletter states that during March the 'soft strip' has reached 75% completion, and a 'system for removing demolished material has been established'. During April, amongst other things, 'munchers and breakers' will get involved in the action. Judging by the photo to the right, the munching may already have begun. One consequence of this is that theses days it pays to look where you're going when using the city's handful of concrete walkways.
P1010717Having said that, this particular walkway does emanate from the rear of 22-24 Bishopsgate, which will be knocked down shortly to make way for the Bishopsgate Tower. in the photo you can just make out the pre/during demolition cladding on it in the bottom right.

P1010714The demolition site is surrounded by boarding, and on this boarding are no fewer than 14 different types of sign, variously informative, advisory and apologetic (photos of all of them on my flickr). Here's my two favourite. It warns you about a lot of things. So many things, in fact, that it's very difficult to remember the first few things you were warned about by the time you get to the end.

P1010710There was also a sign on a gate saying 'Gates constantly in use.' I waited for ages and they didn't get used once. Lying bastards.

But not bastards, in fact. As I was taking photos of the signs a car pulled up alongside me, and the driver asked me why I was taking photos, which instantly made me wary of my getting embroiled in another MI6 incident. But then I noticed he had 'Sitting on the dock of the bay' on the car stereo all along, and felt quite silly, and how can anyone who listens to Otis Redding possibly be a machine of the police state?

Anyway, it turns out his name's Lee, and he's the construction manager, working for Bovis, the contractors for British Land, the developers. I explained that I put the photos etc. online, and he was very familiar with the practice. He and the rest of the Bovis lot regularly read (with enjoyment) what the skyscrapercity community posts about the tower. I said I'd mention him in a post. Wish I'd been a bit more like Paxman though, and asked him some awkward questions. 'Can you guarantee the tower will be constructed on schedule? ... What if there's an international glass shortage? ... Is there any truth in the rumour that large sections of the building will be made out of cheese?' ... and so on. Or I could have written down his numberplate. Or done somethinga bit more investigative. A golden opportunity wasted.

Not too miserable a post after all as it turns out. Hope you enjoyed the song though.

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