SWISS RE

The Swiss Re Group is a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer. Their main office is in Zurich.The Swiss Re building is now known as The Gherkin. It was built on the site of the Baltic Exchange. That is at an exchange that handles all maritime trade information and the majority of world shipping interests

On 10th April 1992 three people died and many more were injured as the Saturday bomb ripped through the specifically targeted Exchange building. This IRA bomb consisted of 100 pounds of semtex wrapped in a ton of fertilizer. However by Monday morning, the Baltic was installed in Lloyd’s of London and, by Wednesday, a trading floor was open. After English Heritage later discovered the damage was far more severe than initially thought, they stopped insisting on full restoration, albeit over the objections of the architectural conservationists who favoured reconstruction. Most of the remaining structures on Baltic Exchange site were then carefully dismantled, the interior of Exchange Hall and the façade were preserved, hoping for a reconstruction of the building in the future The salvaged material was eventually sold for £800,000 and moved to Tallinn, Estonia,

The Baltic Exchange and the Chamber of Shipping sold the land to Trafalgar House in 1995.In 1996, Trafalgar House, through Sir Norman Foster submitted plans for the Millennium Tower. At 2,165 feet and 86 floors this would have been the tallest building in Europe but was judged to be an over development of the site. This plan was dropped after objections for being totally out-of-scale with the City of London and anticipated disruption to flight paths for both London City and London Heathrow airports; and sight lines to St Paul’s So a revised plan for a lower tower was accepted. So we got the Swiss Re tower, also widely known as the Gherkin which, now stands on the site of the old Baltic Exchange and which has become a new symbol of London. Two guides have told me it is a more popular venue to Americans than St Paul’s.

The Gherkin was completed in December 2003, by Foster and the Arup group and erected by Skanska and opened in April 2004 with 41 stories at 591 feet high it provides 1,700,000 sq feet of office space together with an arcade of shops and cafés accessed from a newly created piazza. At the summit is a club room that offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama across the capital. The Gherkin has only one piece of carved glass in the whole building – the lens right at the top

Since its completion, the building has won a number of awards for architecture. In October

2004, the architect was awarded the 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize. For the first time in the prize’s history, the judges reached a unanimous decision. In December 2005, a survey of the world’s largest firms of architects published in 2006 BD World Architecture 200 voted the tower as the most admired new building in the world.

Swiss Re sold in 2007, and they made £300 million on the deal, and it was sold again in 2014 to the Brazilian Safra group after going into receivership. The Gherkin is significant as the building that changed public perception of tall buildings in London.

When the site was being recovered a grave was found of a young Roman girl who died between AD 350-400. The skeleton was that of a young person of around 13-17 years of age, probably a young woman, and although some fragments of human skull were found nearby this appeared to be an isolated burial and not part of a cemetery. The burial would have lain just outside an early boundary ditch marking the edge of the Roman city. This is unusual as Roman cemeteries were always outside City walls. The burial has been dated to AD 350- 400.She has been re-interred where found following a service in St Botolph Aldgate and the service in April 07 12 years after being found.

Steve

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