Thursday, June 24, 2004

Lunch in a greenhouse

It's not often I manage to make my work colleagues envious. But this afternoon I went to meet a friend for lunch in the Swiss Re building around the corner. But most will probably know it better as the Gherkin.

There's a restaurant on its 34th floor (a high speed affair which makes your eyes pop). The restaurant itself is quite small, although a small swirling staircase takes you to the bar at the top, where a handful of tables fill the space. From here the top of the building takes on a glasshouse affair, with only sky above and the clouds floating along.

A rather impressive sight, especially as the building is taller than any other nearby, other than the Nat West building to the west. And from this height it's possible to look down Whitechapel Road, see the Tower of London, look to the west and notes London's landmarks. While it's tall, it's not so high that you can't make out activity going on the streets below - people can be easily made out and identified.

I wasn't sure whether we could see to the edge of London from the top floor (probably not), although it seemed like it; I could make out patches of green across the river to the south and to the north east.

Of course, the only way to get a ring side view of London this high up is to be a guest of someone who works in the building. It's not open to the wider public. Hence the green-eyed monster's visit to my colleagues this morning.

And as for the lobby in the Gherkin. Well, you can take it away quite frankly. High ceiling and cold metallic walls - all rather quasi-fascistic with no greenery to break the bleakness.

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