Progress on two major European skyscrapers may not represent the green shoots of economic recovery, but they help lighten the gloom. In London, pile work is due to start mid-month on the 310-m-tall "Shard," planned as Europe�s second-tallest building. And workers in Frankfurt are beginning to mobilize the planned Tower 185.

Photo: Vivico Real Estate
Workers begin mobilizing for Frankfurt Tower 185.
Photo: London Bridge Quarter Ltd.
If London's 310-m-tall "Shard" moves forward, it could Europe's second tallest building.

With Middle Eastern backing, London Bridge Quarter Ltd., recently signed a construction contract with local Mace Ltd. for the estimated $1.5-billion riverside development, including the tapering Shard. Completion is scheduled for early 2012.

Mace's subcontractor, Stent Foundations Ltd., Basingstoke, has begun moving onto the site. And Cleveland Bridge Ltd., due soon to sign its structural subcontract, has started procuring some of the 14,000 tons of structural steel "to keep the work going," says an official of the Darlington, U.K.-based firm.

The tower will have a multifaceted, glazed envelope with sides leaning inward by some 6 deg. Its core and sloping perimeter columns will take loads to the ground, while outriggers will help provide lateral stability, according to engineers at lead structural designer, WSP Cantor Seinuk, London and New York City.

Designed by Architect Renzo Piano, Paris, the tower will be some 55-m shorter than the next European record-holder, Moscow's Federation Tower, excluding the Russian building's observation shaft and spire. But the Shard will take Western Europe¹s record from the 259-m Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, where Germany's latest skyscraper is about to take root.

Essen-based Hochtief Construction A.G. has just signed a $75-million foundations, shell and core contract for the concrete-framed 185-m Tower 185, owned by Vivico Real Estate GmbH., Frankfurt. Designed by Professor Christoph Mäckler Architekten, Frankfurt, with structural engineer RSP Remmel+Sattler Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH., Frankfurt, the building is Remmel+due to open in two years.