City of London's Scalpel skyscraper cuts a fine figure
Rising to a sharp gleaming point in the City of London, the aptly-named Scalpel is another high-profile skyscraper by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). The office building is a striking addition to the capital's skyline and rises to a height of 190 m (623 ft).
The tower was originally named 52 Lime Street but has now formally adopted the Scalpel moniker and is part of a cluster of buildings in the City of London that have weird and wonderful nicknames, like the Cheesegrater, the Can of Ham, the Gherkin, and the Walkie-Talkie. Featuring a distinctive geometric form and reflective glass facade, its design actually has practical merit too, and was conceived to ensure it didn't ruin the view of St Paul's Cathedral from Fleet Street and other important vantage points.
"To protect the view of St Paul's Cathedral, the building needed either to be stepped or inclined behind the cathedral's dome from key vantage points," explains KPF. "The inclined facade offered a calm silhouette while providing a wider variety of floor plate types and greater efficiencies. The taut, sculptural form reinforces the more formal urban planning interventions at the ground floor, which shape the external space adjacent to the neighboring buildings while holding the building line along Leadenhall Street."
The Scalpel's ground floor hosts a lobby with triple-height atrium, retail space and a coffee shop, with the rest of its 35 floors given over to office space.
The building received a BREEAM (a green building standard) "Excellent" rating due to its relative energy-efficiency. Its core (featuring the staircases and elevator shafts) is situated so as to provide shade and thus reduce demand for air conditioning. Potable water use is also reduced by 45 percent compared to a typical tower due to low-flow toilets and sinks.
We've noted before how prolific KPF is, but the sheer scale of the firm's architectural output really is impressive. Recent highlights include the opening of the Edge viewing point on its 30 Hudson Yards skyscraper, the completion of Citic Tower, which is among the world's tallest buildings, and the topping out of the attractive One Vanderbilt tower. Its MGM Cotai was also recently named the world's best skyscraper by Emporis.