A distinctive office tower in the City of London designed by Norman Foster. It is located on the site of the old Baltic Exchange on St Mary Axe which was bombed by the IRA in 1992. It is due to open in early 2004.

In August 2000 the government gave final approval for the construction of this remarkable building, the first of such height in the City since the 1970s. Affectionately nicknamed the Erotic Gherkin because of its shape, it was originally called the Swiss Re Building, after the insurance company who commissioned it. Subsequent pressures on the insurance industry have meant that the building is as yet not fully let, and the official name has reverted to the even more prosaic 30 St Mary Axe, although it is familiarly known just as the Gherkin

The Gherkin's immediate popularity arises from the attractive curves of its design. Advances in modern Computer Aided Design techniques and building materials has enabled more adventurous constructions such as this. The skeleton of the building consists of interlocking helixes which create rhombuses. All the windows are either triangular or rhomboid, and the structure comes to a pleasing point from which there are spectacular views of the capital. Shading of some of the windows creates symmetrical spirals of black and green up the tower.

The Gherkin is the second tallest building in the City of London at 180m, marginally shadowed by the Nat West Tower, although the Canada Tower in Canary Wharf remains the tallest building in London, and indeed in Britain at 244m.

Norman Foster's other distinctive designs in London include City Hall, next to Tower Bridge, the Great Court at the British Museum and the Millenium Bridge.

This is the Foster and Partners webpage for the building: http://www.fosterandpartners.com/internetsite/html/Project.asp?JobNo=1004
There are various views of the tower here: http://www.jacobsen.no/anders/blog/archives/2003/06/10/the_swiss_re_tower.html
And a nice recent distance shot showing off the spiral effect: http://www.ma1.se/gallery/swissre/bks0036

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