As you probably know by now, the United Kingdom’s capital will host the 2012 Olympics, one of the most important sports events in the world. And since the games’ debut is getting closer and closer, preparations in London are also getting more frantic. In the year when London will host the Olympic Games for the third time (after 1908 and 1948), 10 impressive projects will be inaugurated, signed by famous architects, that will change the city’s face forever.
Shard London Bridge
Previously known as the London Bridge Tower, the “transparent” 72-story (95-story if we include plant floors) sky scraper was designed by famous architect Renzo Piano and when it will be finished, this year, will break all of London’s records. With its 1,017-ft height (310 meters), The Shard will become the tallest building in Europe and will feature 44 elevators, offices, apartments, restaurants, shops and a Shangri-La luxury hotel. A real vertical city, that cost more than 2 billion Euros ($2.6 billion) and where 10,000 people will work.
London Aquatics Center
The impressive swimming facility was designed by Zaha Hadid specifically for the Olympics and it was inaugurated last year. The roof is 11,200 square feet and the entire project’s cost was $385 million, three times more than initially estimated. But we have to admit, it’s worth it, because it looks absolutely amazing, the giant curved structured having a total capacity of 17,500 spectators.
The Pinnacle (Bishopsgate Tower)
The 945-ft (288 meters) 64-story building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and it will stand right in the middle of London’s “heart”, between Bishopgate and St. Mary Axe. The aerodynamic façade will be made of two glass layers, one on the exterior (protects the structure from wind) and one on the interior (sealed, waterproof and thermal isolation). Unfortunately, even though construction began in 2008, the financial crisis seriously affected building schedule, and after several delays, it looks like the building won’t be ready by Olympics, the inauguration being scheduled for January 2013.
BBC Broadcasting House
The facility’s “piece de resistance” is a 43,000 sq.-ft. “newsroom”, designed like a movie set. The new building will be home to BBC News, Music, Radio and World Service and is currently being built besides the broadcaster’s historical headquarters built in the 1930s. The new Broadcasting House was designed by MJP Architects, features 861,000 sq.-ft. of studios, editorial and offices and when completed will become one of the most advanced production centers in the world.
Tate Modern 2
After Tate Modern, the old power station on the River Thames, became a world symbol of contemporary art, the same architects, Herzog & de Meuron also designed Tate Modern 2, an extension of the existing facility. The new futuristic building, an eco-friendly jewel will rise where the power station’s fuel tanks used to be. While the original project was designed as a glass stepped pyramid, it was modified and now features a brick façade, to match the original power station’s appearance. The project cost almost $350 million and is scheduled to be opened before the Olympic Games.
Seal House London
This building featuring offices and shops is located on the Thames’ bank, close to the London Bridge, and its evolution has been quite difficult, especially after the architect working on this project, David Chipperfield, had to rearrange the four upper floors. Despite these drawbacks, the building will be ready until the Olympics.
W Hotel Leicester Square
The five-star W Hotel in Leicester Square opened its gates in 2010. Located right in the “heart” of London, the “curved” luxury hotel features 192 rooms and was designed by architecture firm Jestico&Whiles. The building has a cement structure and is covered in transparent glass and according to chief architect John Whiles, it is a “jewel in the necklace of light that defines the West End.”
One Hyde Park
The most exclusive area in London will get this new two-pavilion glass and steel complex featuring 86 ultra-luxury apartments. The residential area will be connected through four other pavilions (with different heights) with three street-level areas containing stores, located across the street from Knightsbridge. The $1.5 billion project was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour&Partners and among its most notable residents there are the Prime Minister of Qatar, Kylie Minogue and Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.
King’s Cross Station
Last month, the modernized London’s King’s Cross station was opened to public as part of one of the most ambitious and expensive projects going on in the city, the King’s Cross Central. Designed by John McAslan&Partners, the new King’s Cross station combines the original Victorian façade with a modern atrium featuring a curved semi-transparent roof.