Barclays headquarters will contain panic rooms, anti bioterror air-conditioning and extra fire escapes.
Britain's first terrorist-proof tall building, able to withstand aircraft and biological terror attacks, is under construction at Canary Wharf in London Docklands.

The 33-storey head office for Barclays is the first skyscraper to be designed and constructed in the UK since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre last year.

The structure, conceived by WSP subsidiary and tall buildings specialist Cantor Seinuk, is hailed by project insiders as "one of the most robust buildings in the world" and a blueprint for future tall buildings. Kamran Moazami, a director, said: "It is one of the best in the world as far as progressive collapse is concerned."

The enhanced specifications include more escape staircases, cutting typical evacuation times in half. The air-conditioning intake will be placed on the roof to hinder attack using biological agents.

The beefed-up central core will include "panic rooms", large enough to allow the occupants of every floor to take refuge in the event of an attack without being forced to leave the building. This core contains a Tannoy system to keep personnel informed of the current situation.

A spokesperson for Barclays said the building's design was reviewed after the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September last year. The spokesperson said: "The new headquarters will provide exceptional safety standards and incorporate the most up-to-date safety and security features possible."

The safety measures include:

  • Using above standard fireproofing material throughout
  • Even better steelwork fireproofing, capable of lasting 1.5-2 hours
  • More fire escapes than standard to improve evacuation times
  • Widening fire escape stairs by 200 mm to increase capacity
  • Housing two of the four fire escape stairs in the central core
  • Increasing thickness of the walls of the central concrete core to 400 mm – they are typically 300 mm
  • Putting additives in the concrete of the central core walls to improve their performance in a hydrocarbon fire
  • Enclosing two satellite escape stairs in concrete
  • Installing a Tannoy system in stairwells to keep people informed of what danger they are in
  • Designing concrete core to include panic rooms
  • Using laminated glass to avoid flying shards in a bomb blast
  • Designing perimeter steel structure so that any two adjacent structural columns can be destroyed without bringing the building down
  • Strengthening the floor structure to prevent them progressively collapsing on top of each other, as some experts have suggested took place at the World Trade Centre.

The building's design takes on board expert recommendations made since 11 September, including guidelines from the UK's Safety in Tall Buildings working group and consultant Arup's extreme events mitigation taskforce report, Chemical or Biological Terrorist Attack on Buildings.

The building, known as BP1 on One Churchill Place, is due to be completed at the end of 2004. Barclays will move into the building in 2005, and will occupy 60,000 m2 of the 93,000 m2 building.

Architect on the building is HOK International, steelwork contractor is Victor Buyck and main contractor is Canary Wharf Contractors.