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W R Berkley requests planning for London 'scalpel' skyscraper

Insurance firm W R Berkley Corporation has submitted a planning application for its new European headquarters at 52-54 Lime Street London, a building that is already being dubbed “the scalpel”.

The 35-storey tower will bring together all of the company’s London staff into one location, occupying 25 per cent of the building.

Other companies have already expressed interest in taking room in the building, said W R Berkley.

Work is expected to start in 2013, pending planning approval, and the building is due to be ready for occupation by 2017. The firm has funded the application from its own balance sheet.

The building was designed by Bill Pedersen at Kohn Pedersen Fox, the firm which also designed the Heron tower.

At 190 m tall, the 35 floors of offices will sit above ground and mezzanine levels and two basement levels. Entrances via a new public square will be on Leadenhall Street.

A new public square of about 11,000 sq ft next to the existing precinct around the Willis Building will include public seating, planting and space for public art and tables linked to a coffee shop on the ground floor, which is designed to echo “the 17th century origins of the specialist insurance markets at Lloyds Coffee House”, said the firm.

Founder and chairman of W R Berkley Corporation William Berkley said the proposed building “is an integral component of our international growth strategy”.

“This major investment is a signal of our belief and confidence in London as the centre of the global insurance market,” he added.

“Creating a new European headquarters on Lime Street, alongside some of the largest companies in the industry, is an affirmation of the City of London as the centre of the insurance and reinsurance industries.” 

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