As one of the tallest skyscrapers in London, Tower 42, or Natwest Tower as it is sometimes known due to its history as the headquarters of Natwest Bank, is located at 25 Old Broad Street and near the London City Suites of the Montcalm Hotel. The skyscraper is the basis for a restaurant and a lot of commercial office space but has a long spanning history as the Natwest headquarters until it was resold and currently plays as the home for businesses such as Samsun and Hong Kong Airlines.
Architecture and Design
The design for the tower stretches back to the 1960’s, when prolific building designer Richard Seifert made proposals to demolish the 19th century Bishopsgate bank building which housed the National Provincial Bank before their planned move to Old Broad Street. Although his plans caused controversy due to the surprisingly tall design and the demolition of the original site which had historical significance due to it being created by respected London architect John Gibson. The eventual design had the tower reduced to 183 metres and kept the original Gibson building intact.
The eventual design started construction in 1970 and was eventually completed in 1980, by the company John Mowlem & Co around a core of concrete. The cantilevered floors also bring great stability to the tower whilst the tower itself is split into three sectors, from above resembling the NatWest design. Whilst the design is innovative and matches the towering business which NatWest has become, there are other features which make the building’s interior stand out. These include the double decked elevators, a stunning sky lobby as well as an internal mail train which is used for efficient and economical mail and document distributions around the building. The building also harbours its own external window washing system and computer controlled air conditioning. One beautiful and psychologically positive attribute is the basement levels, which have been decorated with panoramic photographs of the London Skyline so as to give the impression of being above ground.
After its completion in 1980, the building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and occupied by the banking firm NatWest’s international division. The upper floors were reserved for the executive management team whilst the rest of the floors were made up of the company’s marketing and regional offices as well as the lower levels being used for the overseas branches. This meant that almost all aspects of the business could be run from the skyscraper on Old Broad Street. It was only in 1993 when the bank was bombed by the IRA that the bank ahd to undergo major refurbishments which cost up to 75 million pounds to repair. After its mending in 1998, the tower was renamed the International Finance Centre and bought by Hermes Real Estate for 226 million pounds. As of 2010, the building had been on the market for 300 million pounds but was eventually bought for a price of 282.5 million by South African company Nathan Kirsch.
With so much money behind it, Tower 42 is one of the symbols of British wealth and power and is truly worth a visit.