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FINANCIAL TIMES: Bloomberg to open £1bn City of London headquarters

Bloomberg’s new headquarters in the City of London — billed as the most sustainable office building in the world — will open on Tuesday.

While the financial news and information company has not confirmed how much it spent on the three-year project, the Foster + Partners complex reportedly cost as much as £1bn.

The London-based architects are no strangers to high-profile commercial spaces. They were also responsible for Apple’s $5bn headquarters, which opened this year in Cupertino, California.

But unlike its circular Cupertino counterpart, the 1.1m sq ft Bloomberg building in London was designed to blend into its surroundings. The architects attempted to conceal the size of the nine-story buildings while carving out a small amount of additional public space, including the Bloomberg Arcade, a walkway that bisects the building. The arcade connects to Watling Street, which was originally a route during the Roman empire.

The arcade is not the building’s only connection to antiquity. The Temple of Mithras, a Roman temple that was originally uncovered in 1953 during excavations for the Bloomberg building’s predecessor, Bucklersbury House, has also been relocated to its original site as part of the Bloomberg complex. The mithraeum, including some 14,000 artifacts, is housed in a specially designed museum two storeys below street level, which will open to the public next month.

The construction, which has included a new entrance to Bank underground station, also allows for three small public plazas, each of which is decorated with installations from the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias. Evoking the tides of the former River Walbrook — a stream that ran through the site during the Roman era — water will ebb and flow through Ms Iglesias’s pavement-level sculptures.

Bloomberg has also commissioned artwork for the interior of the building from such artists as Michael Craig-Martin, Olafur Eliasson and Langlands & Bell.

Michael Bloomberg, founder and chief executive of Bloomberg, stipulated that the headquarters should reflect their location, and the architects have stressed that 90 per cent of the materials used in the building were sourced in the UK.

The building is clad in almost 10,000 tonnes of English sandstone and bronze that was fabricated in Japan. The bronze fins that characterize the building — Norman Foster calls them “gills” — allow natural ventilation, and the building takes most of the heat it needs from its inhabitants and their computers.

Bloomberg says the building saves 73 per cent in water consumption and 35 per cent in energy consumption “compared to a typical office building”. The building also received a 98.5 per cent score on the BREEAM sustainability assessment method — the highest achieved by a major office development.

“This has been a huge research project,” Lord Foster said. “The natural ventilation is similar to that used on Apple but we’ve had to filter the [more polluted] air and the traffic noise.”

Lord Foster described the project as a “London building” and “not a glass box”.

“It was a huge concession to accept so much lower a profile and to give so much over to the public — a new Tube entrance, public spaces and a new street,” Lord Foster added. “It’s an act of patronage.”

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