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Willis Building, 51 Lime Street
51 Lime Street, London EC3, UK
associated engineer
Ramboll Whitbybird
date  2005 - June 2007, opened Aril 2008
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ331811
The 29-storey Willis Building, situated opposite fellow insurance business Lloyd's of London, was the capital's fourth-tallest building when completed. Its stepped profile, curved in plan, references the overlapping shells of a crustacean. The award-winning development provides some 50,000 sq m of office space.
The Willis Building occupies the site of the 1958 Lloyd's Building, which was demolished in 2004-5 — the present Lloyd's Building, at 1 Lime Street, opened in 1986. In 2001, architect Lord Norman Foster (b.1935) was appointed to deliver the concept design for the Willis Building, and Ramboll Whitbybird (now Ramboll UK) provided the structural engineering. Construction took place in 2005-7 and after fitting out it opened in April 2008.
The development has two towers, each with a robust central core for stairs, lifts, facilities and services that enables the remainder of the internal spaces to be column-free. The Willis Building is the larger tower, which is stepped back at the 16th and 23rd floors to create terraces. Its rooftop is 29 storeys high, 125m above the ground. The smaller 10-storey tower, at 1 Fenchurch Street, is leased separately.
The towers are linked by a two-storey basement, with a ground-level plaza between them. The existing basement has been retained and remodelled to house an auditorium, a gym and parking for 200 bicycles, 90 motorbikes and 30 vehicles.
Almost 78 percent (by weight) of the construction waste from demolishing the previous building has been recycled and crushed for use in the foundations of the new building. The new piled foundations are 38m deep. The finished structure contains 5,500 tonnes of steel and more than 15,000 cu m of concrete. It has 21 high-speed lifts (elevators) and almost 3,800 windows.
The building's design has reduced water consumption by 30 percent — daily water usage is less than 20 litres per full time employee. Measures to minimise water consumption include rainwater harvesting, automatic taps, flush sensors and leak detectors/isolators. Other sustainable initiatives include energy-efficient double-glazing to the reflective façade, light sensors, low-energy light bulbs and recycling wherever possible. The results are reflected in its BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating of "excellent" — the highest possible ranking.
The Willis Building won the 2007 New City Architecture Award from the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects and the 2008 Best Tall Building (Europe) from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Architect: Norman Foster, Foster + Partners
Landscape architect: Charles Funcke Associates
Building services engineering: Roger Preston & Partners
Lighting: Equation Lighting Design
Contractor: Mace Ltd
Research: ECPK

Willis Building, 51 Lime Street