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Gensler's Westminster rethink wins over critics

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Gensler has convinced its critics with this revised scheme for a prominent London site. One Westminster Bridge, a speculative office scheme for Frogmore Developments, earned notoriety after London mayor Ken Livingstone exercised his power of refusal for the first time to block the plans.

The original proposal featured a circular building on the former Greater London Council island block site opposite Westminster Bridge; a 14-storey annex building on Addington Street; and a link bridge connecting the two.

CABE expressed grave reservations about the link building, while English Heritage was concerned about the height of the annex and its impact on nearby County Hall. But, after an unsuccessful appeal, Gensler has rethought the scheme and won planning approval from Lambeth as well as the support of CABE, EH and the GLA.

The new £100 million-plus plans remove the bridge between the island block site and the annex, to produce two distinct buildings, and lower the height of the annex.

They also anticipate future changes to road layout.

The 25,800m 2, eight-storey Peninsula building on the derelict island block site is tri-axial in form and includes an atrium facing Westminster Bridge and the River Thames. It is clad on the ground and first floors with bands of stone and glass, and on the upper levels with metal and glass, incorporating external sun shading.

The 13,5000m 2,11-storey annex building is situated on Addington Street, between the General Lying-in Hospital and the Waterloo International Station viaduct, on a site currently used as a car park. The 50m-high building is clad with stone, incorporating metal sunshades on the south and west facades, and metal and glass with external sunshades on the north and east elevations.

Lambeth planning officer Richard Saunders said the council was now fully satisfied that the new island building was a 'world class piece of architecture'.

'They have managed to come up with something that satisfies everyone, 'he said.

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