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9 November 2016

HOK’s Larry Malcic on Designing Spire London to Adapt to an Uncertain Future

London Spire

Bloomberg interviewed HOK Design Principal Larry Malcic on the firm’s design of the 67-story tower, which will be the tallest residential building in Western Europe.

Despite uncertainly from the U.K.’s recent “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union, Greenland Group, China’s third-largest developer, is moving forward with construction of Spire London, a 67-story luxury residential tower adjacent to London’s Canary Wharf.

“‘We feel that the advantages of London—its global cachet, cosmopolitanism and being a centre of world trade—bode well for a positive future for both the property market and the wider economy,’ wrote Wenhao Qian, managing director of Greenland Investment Ltd., in an e-mail.”

“The building is designed as a three-petal, undulating tower. Its position on a bend of the Thames provides unparalleled views of London in all directions, and its amenities, including a 35th-story lounge with an infinity pool, an entire floor devoted to recreation rooms, and even an outdoor covered track, would place it at the (literal) top of London’s booming luxury real estate.”

“In the short term, the Spire can hope to attract international buyers confident in London’s future as a financial center, or at least in its position as a city more stable than those in their home country. In a mid- to long-range outlook, demographic indicators imply that its buyers could come from within the U.K.”

“Malcic, the architect at HOK, said the building was designed with just this sort of change in mind. ‘We’re looking to appeal to a whole range of people,’ he said. ‘I think it will be equally appealing to people in the home counties whose children have grown up, who don’t want to spend time cutting the grass anymore.’”

Spire London_Credit HOK

“Malcic said that HOK accounted for this uncertain future with malleable tech configurations (‘What people need is not built-in tech anymore,’ he said, ‘what they need is the flexibility to put in whatever technology is coming’), extra-high ceilings (‘which gives a graciousness, but also a degree of flexibility,’) and such amenities as refrigerated storage lockers to stash grocery deliveries. ‘In the old days, you measured success by how much square feet you had,’ he said. ‘Now it’s how much convenience you have.’”

Bloomberg