Sunday, November 10, 2013

Canary Wharf and Environs

In preparation for the first jury session to select a short list of teams to plan the Moscow International Financial Centre, I thought it might be worthwhile to spend some time in another International Financial Centre....London's Canary Wharf. I was right!

Although I had visited it briefly, and stopped by on the Thames River boats, I had never stayed there. While I planned to stay at the Four Seasons (Since Canary Wharf was developed by Toronto's Reichman family, it was only proper that there be a Toronto hotelier involved), I was bothered by their somewhat deceptive stay 3 nights but pay for 2 offer, so instead I chose the Radisson Blu, just beside Canary Wharf at Providence Pier.

While not as convenient for touring around Canary Wharf, and in a somewhat obscure location, this waterfront hotel is very different than the Radisson Hotels with which most of us are familiar. The Blu brand is a 5 star chain, as evident in Chicago where the hotel is located in Jeanne Wang's superb 82 storey Aqua building.

While now decades old, Canary Wharf is still growing with developments both on site, and in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Here are just a few snapshots.
The Radisson Blu on right is part of a new mixed use waterfront complex. It can be reached by a 5 minute walk from a couple of Docklands Light Rail stations
While we often think of London as  very walkable city, walking to Canary Wharf from Providence Wharf was somewhat challenging at times
En route, there are some wonderful views across the various quays...
I came across this new development which for some reason reminded me of a Vancouver development
Another view across one of the many quays within Docklands surrounding Canary Wharf
This seemed like an initiative for some Vancouver contractors to consider...
What were they thinking? A bicycle speed bump?
While it's nice to see more colour on apartment buildings, I would be curious to see how these coloured panels of glass impact the quality of light inside the suites
Canary Wharf's success can be attributed in large part to its rail connections to the rest of the city, including the Jubilee Line which runs right into the middle of the development and even some buildings
Cars entering Canary Wharf often have to go through security gates established around the site. Yes, that striped thing goes down once the motorist has been cleared
I no sooner took my photo and security approached me!
"You can't take photos here" he told me. While I hesitated to tell him I was doing this for Moscow, we did have a good chat.
There are a lot of very impressive spaces both inside and outside the buildings. However, I agree with the consensus that the scale is often a bit inhumane...especially when the wind blows through the exterior streets

There is much to like about Canary Wharf, including the transit connections. But under all these plazas are where people really gather, with two or three levels of retail shopping. Yes there's even a small Marks & Spencers underneath.
A well known piece of public art by one of Germany's more creative people. Look at the clocks carefully!
Most people will probably like this piece better!
I was surprised to discover a skating rink within the development...
Which looked quite good at night.
I decided to leave by boat, from the dock just below the Four Seasons Hotel
Looking back as the boat pulls away at the Canary Wharf towers and the surrounding residential buildings.  If we were doing it today, we would better integrate the commercial and residential spaces...
To see more developments along the Thames, you might want to take a look at this previous post.

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