Thursday, August 6

Centre Point

I have grumbled about Centre Point before, and here she is in all her nastiness. 32 stories high and 385 feet, CP located at Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road and towers above everything in Central London. Other than the City which is some miles away, CP the only highrise around. Not surprising, then, that the site was once occupied by a gallows. As my friend Nick who occupies the top floor once told me, "Centre Point is the most lovely view around. As long as you are looking from it."

Whilst on tall buildings, the Araabs make sure that our tallest to be built: Renzo Piano's "Shard" half a mile south of the London Bridge. It is expected completed by the 2012 Olympics. Otherwise London building bleak as 5.75 million square feet of 2011 office space cancelled, ka-put, according to British Land. This due to the credit crisis which, says developer Irvine Sellar, "happened arguably in the nick of time. If it had happened a few months later, a lot of buildings that have been delayed would have gone ahead" leaving us, presumably, with a load of dead space (Centre Point was vacant for years when it opened in recession, '66). These tall buildings cast their long shadow's vibe over entire neighborhoods. Today it is all steel and tinted glass while yesteryear limestone or brick. London has dug its way out of the horrible 1960s but I wonder with such crap projects as 1 Hyde Park coming online whether we do ourselves justice? Prince Charles feels obliged to take on the iconic designers and maybe he has a point.

"At the moment it looks as though London seems to be turning into an absurdest picnic table - we already have a giant gherkin, now it looks as if we are going to have an enormous salt cellar."
--Prince Charles, on the design for Renzo Piano's "Shard of Glass", 2003