When Peter Wynne Rees became the chief planner of the City of London in 1985, the famous “square mile” had only one hotel, at Liverpool Street Station, with rooms, he says, that bankers rented by the hour. Now two of the City’s most important Edwardian buildings are becoming luxury hotels. The conversion of the former headquarters of the Port of London Authority in Trinity Square, near the Tower of London, and the Midland Bank Head Office, designed by the great architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, will bring the number of hotel rooms in the City to almost 6,000.
Rees, a Welsh-born architect who has held the planning job for 27 years, can take much of the credit for the City’s hotel boom. But his most visible and controversial legacy may be the skyscrapers that have been sprouting up around the City—a cluster of towers with nicknames like the Cheese Grater, the Scalpel, and the Can of Ham. That one, actually 122 Leadenhall Street, by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, topped out at over 700 feet in June.