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The Architecture of Canary Wharf


Canary Wharf is one of London’s major business districts, and contains many of Europe’s tallest buildings, including the second tallest in Great Britain. Canary Wharf contains around 14,000,000 square feet of office and retail space, of which around 7,900,000 square feet is owned by the Canary Wharf Group. Around 105,000 people work in Canary Wharf, and its home to the world or European headquarters of an incredible number of major banks, professional services firms and media organisations including Citigroup, KPMG, HSBC and J.P. Morgan.

Historically the area was part of one of the busiest ports in the world – the West India Docks – and today this thriving hub upholds the legacy of the area by being one of the world’s foremost financial centres.


How Did it All Start?

The Canary Wharf of today began when Michael von Clemmcame up with the idea of turning Canary Wharf into a sort of back office. When other business leaders came on board to set up their own offices there, the idea of creating a new business district was born. Construction in the area began in 1988, with the first buildings being completed in 1991. This included the iconic One Canada Square, the UK’s tallest building at the time, and a symbol of growth and regeneration of this previously run-down area. Nowadays there’s a wealth of offices, restaurants, and luxury shops in the area – making the most of its prestigious reputation.


One Canada Square

Holding the record for tallest building in the UK from 1991 to 2010, One Canada Square stands at an incredible 770 feet, containing 50 floors – brought down from the originally proposed 55 floors due to air space restrictions. The principal architect on the project was Cesar Pelli, who based his design on a combination of the World Financial Center in New York, and the Houses of Parliament’s Elizabeth Tower. The building is clad with expensive stainless steel – used to represent Britain’s heritage as an industrial nation. One of the predominant features of the building is the pyramid roof, sitting at 800ft above sea level, which contains a flashing aircraft warning light, a rare feature for buildings in the United Kingdom. Primarily its 50 floors are taken up by office space for various major businesses, but there are also a few shops on the lower levels. This architectural gem is recognised as a London landmark, and has a worldwide reputation.

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