Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

30 St. Mary Axe - London

For the 46-story London headquarters of the Swiss Reinsurance Company, the mightily productive British architect Norman Foster reimagined the office tower as a vertical torpedo, a steel and glass tumescence that Londoners have taken to calling "the gherkin" when they aren't calling it naughtier things. Its environmental virtues are no joke; on each of its circular floorplates there are six triangular light wells that help flood the workplace with natural light and allow one floor to look into the next, reducing the sense of isolation produced by self-contained office floors. The light wells also conduct air up through the building, reducing the need for air conditioning.