Renzo Piano was in ebullient form in London at the weekend, meeting among others Ken Livingstone's deputy, Nicky Gavron, and Southwark development supremo Fred Manson to discuss his ideas for Europe's tallest office tower at London Bridge Station. Developer Irvine Sellar has pulled off a coup in attracting Piano to the job, though the architect is obviously keen to do a building in London.
He probably thought it would never happen; his London history started in the '60s when he worked at the Design Research Unit under Misha Black with partner-to-be Richard Rogers. They entered the Centre Pompidou competition and the rest is history. In the '80s, Piano did the wonderful IBM pavilion in South Kensington, but no building in the capital. He did, however, act as adviser to BAA on the choice of architect for Terminal 5 - which resulted in Rogers getting the job.
The 365m tower for Sellar will not be the only blockbuster office in the vicinity. Chris Wilkinson is designing one of 46,450m forRailtrack above London Bridge Station, assuming parliamentary approval can be obtained.
Ironically, Railtrack sold Sellar the building on the site he plans the tower for, and then tried to buy it back. With Piano on board it is definitely not for sale.