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Simpson shortens South Bank skyscraper

Ian Simpson has redesigned - and dramatically shortened - his Beetham Tower on London's South Bank.

The architect has lopped almost 20 storeys off the mixed-use residential and hotel skyscraper next to the River Thames near Blackfriars.

Originally Simpson had drawn up plans for a 219.3m-tall, 70-storey skyscraper. However, following criticism from CABE - including comments about the way the building would hang over Blackfriars Road - the scheme has been trimmed by almost 40m.

Even so, once built, the glass boomerang-shaped tower will still be higher than Swiss Re. The planned top-floor observation deck is also expected to be retained in the new designs.

The move by developer The Beetham Organisation to stick with Simpson may come as a surprise to some. During the summer there were rumours Beetham had considered dropping the Simpson team and returning to previous proposals drawn up by Foster and Partners.

In another twist, it has emerged that Dubai-based hospitality company, the Jumeirah Group, has agreed to buy the lower half of the tower.

The owner of the world-famous, seven-star Burj al-Arab hotel wants to create 261 hotel rooms, a new ballroom and a spa and leisure facility on the 26th and 27th floors of Simpson's skyscraper.

by Richard Waite

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