Practice behind Stirling Prize-winning landmark to bring tower up to modern energy standards

Foster & Partners is working on plans for a refurbishment of the Gherkin just 20 years after the firm’s much-loved City of London tower was completed.

Building can reveal that the practice is working with the site’s owner Bury Street Properties to bring the 41-storey tower up to modern energy standards and make it more attractive for occupiers.

Turner & Townsend is also understood to be on the project team, which is aiming to upgrade the Stirling Prize-winning building’s existing office space rather than change it to a different use.

It comes two and a half years after Bury Street Properties was forced to abandon its plans to build the 305m tall Tulip tower on the Gherkin site after it was rejected by communities secretary Michael Gove following a public inquiry.

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Source: Shutterstock

The Gherkin, pictured in March 2004, has now largely been overshadowed by a host of taller towers which have been built since

The developer had hoped the Foster & Partners-designed observation tower, which would have consisted of a slender concrete shaft topped by a 12-storey ‘pod’, would become one of London’s top tourist attractions.

But Gove criticised the scheme, which had been approved by the City in 2019, for using a “highly unsustainable” amount of concrete and for breaching height guidelines in the CIty’s eastern cluster of towers.

Bury Street Properties, which is run by Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra, is understood to have looked at options for reviving the Tulip but now appears to have chosen to focus on the Gherkin instead.

Completed by Skanska in April 2004, the building is now one of the oldest towers in the City’s main cluster and mostly overshadowed by its newer and taller neighbours, including PLP’s 22 Bishopsgate and RSHP’s 100 Leadenhall, also known as The Cheesegrater.

It would be further crowded by a string of new towers planned for surrounding sites including Eric Parry’s revised plans for the 74-storey 1 Undershaft, SOM’s 56-storey 100 Leadenhall and RSHP’s 54-storey 99 Bishopsgate.