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Tower in the Park
SOM adding to London's emerging skyline.
Terrace at Manhattan Loft Gardens by SOM.
Courtesy SOM

The London Olympics were considered a tremendous success. The urban impact of the Games will long outlast the pomp and medal counts. A planned 42-story tower by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, with apartments and a hotel, will serve as a gateway to the Olympic park. Covered in vertical louvers, which also control heat gain, the facade will create a visual interplay between opacity and transparency.

Called Manhattan Loft Gardens, the building will feature three large sky terraces, which will be visible on the exterior through large cut-away sections on the facade. Residents will always be within nine stories of an outdoor space. The terraces feature concrete band pavers that feather into planted edges, reminiscent of the planks on the High Line, and will include large trees and lounge areas.


Reinterpreting the idea of the Manhattan loft, many of the units will have interlinked one and a half story interiors, which maximize views out to the park. Hotel amenities, including the pool, spa, gym and conference facilities, will also available to residents. The hotel will include 150 rooms. A triple-height lobby will have several oval-shaped skylights, which add an organic element to a largely rectilinear design.

SOM designed the terracotta and glass vertical bands to enliven the façade and give the building a warm quality. Triangular in plan, the louvers will allow the facade appear different from various angles—monolithic from some vantage points, and highly translucent from other angles.

Manhattan Loft Gardens is the latest evidence that London is evolving to embrace tall buildings. Located near one of the city’s largest transit stations, the project takes advantage of its urban location, adding appropriate density to this newly redeveloped quarter of the city. The building will be completed in 2014.

Alan G. Brake