Contractor emerges as frontrunner for job to build Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower in City of London

Scalpel view from Leadenhall

Skanska is being lined up for the £500m job to build the Scalpel tower in the city of London, Building can reveal.

Although a contract has not yet been signed, multiple sources close to the project told Building this week that Skanska was now the front runner for the job to build the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower for US insurance firm W.R Berkley, having beaten off competition from rival Mace.

It is understood that Sir Robert McAlpine and Lend Lease also bid for the £500m job, but dropped out at an earlier stage.

The City of London granted planning consent for the 38-storey tower at 52-54 Lime Street - dubbed ‘the Scalpel’ - which will be home to W.R Berkley’s European HQ - in January.

The job is one of the largest building contracts to come to market in recent years, with Skanska’s successful bid following the firm’s completion of the Heron Tower and the 30 St Mary’s Axe, known as the Gherkin, both also in the City.

The tower is planned to be 190m tall, consisting of 35 floors of offices above ground and mezzanine levels with an additional two basement and two roof plant levels.

It will provide over 500,000 sq ft of commercial space as well as 7,700 sq ft of new public space at street level, over 1,000 sq ft of new retail and a new 10,000 sq ft restaurant below-ground.

The entrances to the building would be on Leadenhall Street and from a new public square.

Work on site is scheduled to start by the end of 2013 and it is anticipated that the development could be ready for occupation by 2017.

The development is funded by W. R. Berkley, which also intends to take up to 25% of the total office space.

W. R. Berkley is working with a development partner, Property Group Partners (PGP, formerly Louis Dreyfus Property Group), which is led by Jeffrey Sussman, to deliver the project.

As Building revealed in November, Arup is working as structural and mechanical engineer on the project and EC Harris as quantity surveyor.

DP9 is working as the planning consultant.

W.R Berkley, Skanska and Mace declined to comment.