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 just starting on the 310- meter-tall “Shard,” planned as Europe’s second-tallest building. Elsewhere, workers in Frankfurt are beginning to mobilize the planned Tower 185.

Celtic Crossing. Suspension bridge will maintain a context-sensitive profile.
Photo: London Bridge Quarter Ltd.
Celtic Crossing. Suspension bridge will maintain a context-sensitive profile.
Crews Gear Up for Two High-Rise Jobs in Europe
Photo: Viveco Real Estate

With Middle Eastern backing, London Bridge Quarter Ltd. recently signed a construction contract with London-based 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. Cleveland Bridge Ltd. 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, as designed, would have a multifaceted glazed envelope with sides leaning inward by some six degrees. The tower’s core and sloping perimeter columns would take loads to the ground. Outriggers would help provide lateral stability, according to engineers at lead structural designer, WSP Cantor Sein­uk, London and New York City.

Designed by the Paris office of architect Renzo Piano, the tower would be some 55 m shorter than the tallest building in Europe, Moscow’s Federation Tower, excluding the Russian building’s observation shaft and spire. But the Shard will take western Europe’s tallest building record from the 259-m Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, where Germany’s latest skyscraper development is about to take root, if all goes as planned.

Essen-based Hochtief Construction A.G. recently signed a $75-million foundations and shell-and-core contract for a concrete-framed 185-m high-rise. Called Tower 185, the building is under development 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 due to open in two years, barring unforeseen circumstances.