In the wake of the Athfield waterfront win, a new seed is set to sprout up in the inner city. Taking root in the Willis New World Metro, this new tower is the latest in a string of green buildings that have been proposed or built. Aiming to achieve a five star Green rating, it seems to tick all the standard boxes: efficient air conditioning and circulation, double skinned glazing and sensor-operated lighting.

Willis st tower

While the building’s eco-agenda checks out, the rest of the tower is much less impressive. Just up from ground level, it begins with several stories worth of blank metal panelling flanked by grills. After a few repetitions this abruptly stops, and the façade launches into a generic glass curtain design, over-layed with a second layer of of glass to presumably restrict solar gains. The building is terminated by an overreaching roof plane with jutting angular supports that perhaps creates a double height level (I count 14 floors…). Regardless it seems a thoroughly generic way to end the building – if anything the jutting roof and supports will have an overbearing effect when viewed from street level, emphasizing the large height of the tower.

In fact the building is somehow located in an 4-story maximum height zone (from what I can tell). Furthermore it is clearly going to be much more than the sum of its 13 floors, as this height doesn’t take into account the New World/grill levels.

To be blunt, the project seems thoroughly uninteresting, featuring dull materials and little design flair. Its difficult to tell, but the ending of the northern side suggests that it’s façade will be another glass curtain wall. The south face appears worryingly blank – perhaps they are expecting a neighbour tower to appear and cover up this omission. Overall, the design seems thoroughly oriented towards the street, ignoring the fact that it is very isolated from the otherwise low-height buildings of its immediate surrounds.

Although the building gets credit for working towards green design as a standard, the rest of its design has stayed firmly within the status quo of a uninspired shoebox tower.