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Headquarters for Merrill Lynch Architect: Swanke Hayden Connell

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The new seven-storey European headquarters of the US bank is under construction,close to St Paul's in the City of London.The building is clad with precast panels,some faced with Portland stone and others with red rubbed brickwork.The design contract,a two-stage process,allowed an opportunity for Techrete and the design team to explore the potential of the product and the process.

A system of stack-bonded brick panels has been developed by Techrete,using an innovative technique to achieve precise alignment of the stack-bonded bricks with a consistent 3mm joint.Some brick-faced spandrel panels are13.3m long x 1.1m high.The plant has also cast flat underslung arches clad with Portland stone.

The arch slabs,1.5m wide and spanning 12m,were post-tensioned in the factory to achieve a thickness of only 150mm.

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