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Banks have been calling London home since the mid 17th century, when financial institutions started emerging in the capital to finance Britain’s expanding overseas trade and empire. Since then their numbers have grown as they have come to dominate the UK economy. As their businesses have evolved, along with the changing landscape of the city, so have the banks moved with the times. Many now reside in an area formerly set aside for storage serving one of the city’s busiest docks, illustrating the changing composition of the British economy.
1 Churchill Place
1m sq ft
Barclays, which currently employs 5000 staff in London, was founded by John Freame, a goldsmith, and his partner Thomas Gould in 1690. For 300 years the bank was based in 54 Lombard Street, which rumor has it was named after Italian financiers from Lombardy. Over time it expanded into neighboring properties, eventually occupying numbers 42-58. The main Barclays building saw many renovations but, despite its popularity among staff became increasingly unsuitable as a head office. In 2005, Barclay’s employees moved into a 156 meter skyscraper in Canary Wharf, where they enjoyed impressive London views and expansive open spaces, as well as a their own roof garden and even a private multi-faith prayer room.
25, 33 Canada Square
1 800 000 sq ft
Citigroup’s EMEA headquarters spans two giant merged skycrapers in Canary Wharf: 33 Canada Square (officially known as CGC1) and 25 Canada Square (CGC2), affectionately known as Oliver 1 and Oliver 2, in reference to the famous Dickens character. At 45 stories, 25 Canada Square is the fourth tallest building in the UK, with entrances on two streets.
1 Cabot Square
540 000 sq ft
Credit Suisse’s 7000 employees in London are spread out over three offices in Canary Wharf: 1 and 5 Cabot Square, and Columbus Courtyard. At 89 meters tall, 1 Cabot Square – the Credit Suisse Building – which opened in 1991, resembles a giant steel bee hive. The square it overlooks is named after the famous Venetian explorer John Cabot and boasts a computer-controlled fountain capable of performing 42 different water dances.
1 Great Winchester Street
Deutsche Bank opened its London office in 1973. Since the late 70s it has earned a reputation for supporting contemporary artists around the globe, with each conference room in its London home named after an artist, whose work is displayed inside. The reception area in Winchester House features artworks by Keith Tyson and Damien Hirst, along with major sculptures by Anish Kapoor and Tony Cragg, and its whole UK collection is shown during regular guided tours that are open to the public.
Peterborough Court, 133 Fleet Street
370 526 sq ft
Peterborough Court was designed and built specially for Goldman Sachs on the site of the Daily Telegraph office in Fleet Street. As with other Goldman offices around the world, anonymity is prized, and its London office has no sign indicating the bank’s presence. It is in the process of constructing a new, bigger 850 sq ft London headquarters in Farrington, which is due to be completed in 2017 or 2018.
8 Canada Water
1 100 000 sq ft
HSBC moved into the 42 floor skyscraper in Canary Wharf in 2002. Two lion sculptures guard the entrance, exact replicas of famous landmarks in Hong-Kong, called Stephen and Stitt, named after two senior HSBC managers from the 1920s. In March, HSBC announced its personal and business arms would relocate from London to new headquarters in Birmingham Arena Central in mid-2017.
25 Bank Street
1 049 980 sq ft
J.P. Morgan’s current London office was completed in 2003, where superstitious contractors numbered the floors of the skyscraper from 1 to 33, intentionally missing the 13th floor. The bank has occupied the building since 2010, when it consolidated its London staff in a single building, bringing them in from various locations around the city. At that time the building’s postcode was changed to E14 5JP, having ended 5LE when Lehman Brothers called it home. In March part of Bank Street had to be closed due to concern that the solar panels on its roof might blow down.
60 London Wall
230 000 sq ft
ING’s London office was established in 1995 after it acquired the old English Barings Bank, which dated back to 1762. Since 2006 ING Barings has shared its beautiful postmodern building with BNP Paribas. There have been unconfirmed rumors it would relocate to a smaller 130 sq ft office in Moorgate, known as The Banking Hall.
Lloyd’s Banking Group
25 Gresham Street
110 000 sq feet
One of the oldest banks in UK, Lloyd’s was the last to vacate its Lombard Street premises in the City, where it had been located since 1984. Lloyd’s bucked the trend of putting its entire staff into one of Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers, moving instead to a new modern building in the City. The ten floor office, a masterpiece of glass and steel, was opened in 2003 and boasts a green yard inherited from St John’s Zachary church.
2 King Edward Street
The first Merrill Lynch office in London opened in 1960, operating under an associated license on the London Stock Exchange. Strict government regulations forbade advertising but, after getting a principal license, Merrill Lynch began inviting customers with a sign outside the office, unusual at the time. Today the bank is located in the former office of General Post, adorned with elegant Edwardian ornaments and with a statue of the postal reformer Onslow Ford.
25 Cabot Square
452 000 sq ft
Morgan Stanley opened its European headquarters in London in 1977. Today its 5000 London-based staff are located in a 17 story building in Canary Wharf, built in 1991, having been specially developed for Morgan Stanley by SOM. It has the look of the famous Sullivan’s commercial buildings in Chicago, fuelling criticism of the North American influence on Canary Wharf.
270 000 sq ft
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s first London office opened in 1874, but until the 1960s English banks blocked further expansion by Scottish banks into England. In 2014 RBS promised to move its headquarters from Edinburgh to London if Scotland voted in favor of independence. Its current London home is a 13 story modern glass building overlooking Liverpool Street.
1 Finsbury Avenue
470 000 sq ft
UBS’ current office was completed in 1984. Working zones are grouped around a glazed atrium which rises to the top of the building, filling the space with daylight. At the entrance is one of Broadgate’s most popular pieces of art: six impartial bronze figures in raincoats returning home after a busy day, the “Rush hour” sculpture by George Segal.
Photo: bank’s web-sites