Bloomberg HQ by Foster + Partners

There is already much written about the Bloomberg headquarters in London designed by Foster + Partners. I assume everyone knows of the project. It was completed in 2017, however I only recently found myself within the vicinity of this project. The remarkable budget of the building is evident in its robust materiality, which can be observed from a pedestrian point of view. The best oneliner for the project I came across is: " A project designed by an architect who wants to be a billionaire for a billionaire who wants to be an architect" . Unfortunately, I can't recall the author of this brilliant quote. The ground level is occupied by commercial units for the most part. There is a covered pedestrian street that cuts through the site dividing the building into two parts. This street is also flanked by an array of restaurants with various sizes. The articulation of this pedestrian level with its undulating facade seems to follow typical commercial design strategies/moves. Nothing stood out as special other than the rich materiality and high level of detailing until we sat down inside one of the restaurants.

The columns of the external megastructure land in front of the glazed ground level. This blade like columns have a teardrop shaped section. Columns arrayed on every facade meet at the corners with a rather strange solution if you're looking out from behind them. Externally there are two distinct mega frames for either facade. Therefore, instead of turning the corner with a single column at 45 degrees - which would become a shared column between the two facade frames - two columns perpendicular to either facade double up and merge at the corner.

Corner column front view 

Corner column front view 

Externally there is a smooth blend between these two corner columns rendering them as a unique corner condition. However from behind, instead of a blend they simply boolean together creating a vertical indentation at their intersection. This rather strange resolution of the corner column was a fun little surprise to us. One would imagine a simple blend between the curvature of the columns would have been an obvious solution. For a project of this calibre it's hard to think that it was a cost saving solution in order to use same form work as much as possible.

Corner column back view  

Corner column back view  

Corner column

Corner column

On another note, the internal lobby/distribution area with three whirling timber clad walls have a much more sophisticated feel/design compared to the commercial feel of the external ground level. It is accessible by anyone who can look confident enough to pass as a Bloomberg employee. It's worth a visit. The micro punctures on the timber cladding help dampen the sound in this otherwise completely hard surfaced space. I sure would like to see more of the interior of this project.

Lobby space  

Lobby space  

Finally, one can also have free access into the gallery space called Bloomberg SPACE. This is accessible from the street, not from the whirling lobby. Below the gallery space there is a permanent exhibition for the reconstructed remains of the temple of Mithras through a multi-sensory presentation. Apperantly the building sits on the original excavation site and Bloomberg wanted preserve it. Also free!

Temple of Mithras  

Temple of Mithras  

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In good company !