The media empire's new European HQ in London is an avant-garde emblem of the City's strength as the world's financial centre, writes Alec Marsh
The billionaire Michael Bloomberg has thrown his weight behind London’s future as a global financial centre with the unveiling of his media empire’s new European HQ in the heart of the City.
Built in 9,600 tonnes of Derbyshire sandstone, the Lord Foster-designed base replaces the four sites that Bloomberg currently uses in the capital and offers 1.1 million square feet of space, right next door to the Mansion House. It is the company’s first wholly owned and designed building in the world, and will house 4,000 staff.
‘Our company is strongly committed to London,’ Bloomberg told the launch, whose guests included London mayor Sadiq Khan. ‘Whatever London and the UK’s relationship with the EU proves to be, London’s language, time-zone, talent, infrastructure and culture all position it to grow as a global capital for years to come.’ Conceding that these are ‘challenging times’ for the capital, Bloomberg added: ‘We are very optimistic about London’s future and we are really excited to be part of it.’
The former three-times New York mayor, who noted that it was his company’s 30th year in London, told reporters that the development of the project began a decade ago: ‘For many companies our size, a new building would have meant opting for a glass skyscraper – and given the price of London real estate and cost of materials – the economics would bear that out,’ he said. Instead, the resulting nine-storey structure – two buildings connected by bridges, incorporating public space and covering 3.2 acres – is relatively low rise. At its core is an avant-garde 700-ft spiral ramp, a timbered walkway which rises from the lobby to the top floor.
Hailing it as ‘extraordinarily modern’ and ‘eminently British’, the building ‘has the highest sustainability rating of any commercial premise in the world’, he said. ‘As a company founded in the US, we are conscious of the fact that we are guests in London and that’s one reason why Lord Foster was the perfect partner for us.’
Sadiq Khan said that the building represented a glimpse into the future: ‘Remarkably, 90 per cent of the project cost has been spent in the UK,’ he said before paying tribute to Bloomberg: ‘Thank you for the vote of confidence in London. This site is at the heart of what was Roman London’s commercial centre. The fact that London has been chosen as home of Bloomberg’s European headquarters sends a clear message to the world about the value of investing in this great city and thus remaining a part of Europe’s commercial market. Bloomberg’s view of London mirrors my optimism about the future of our city as the world’s leading financial, technology and cultural capital. It also shows that despite Brexit, London is open to business, investment, and some of the best design in the world.’
And not just that, but as this dazzling new building – replete with Bloomberg’s signature fish tanks and said to be the biggest stone construction project in the City for a century – demonstrates all too clearly that London is certain to continue as the financial capital of Europe, ideally in concert with - but, if needs be - in spite of, the powers that be in Brussels.