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Commercial Buildings with Unusual Names

Commercial Buildings with Unusual Names

The ‘Gherkin’ – an iconic London landmark with an unusual nickname

With the recent announcement that the ‘Cheesegrater’ office building was undergoing possible re-development, and the ‘Walkie Talkie’ office tower is soon to be restarted, this offered the ideal opportunity to research some of the world’s most unusual building names.

This is an ongoing feature and we are looking to add to it on a regular basis – so please send in your suggestions by using the comment box below, or by emailing

UK Buildings

The Gherkin – City of London

Officially known as 30 St Mary Axe, the ‘Gherkin’ or the ‘Swiss Re Building’ is an iconic 591 ft office building based in the City of London. Designed by Norman Foster, the structure stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange building and was opened in May 2004. It gets its nickname from its distinctive profile which is shaped like a gherkin.

The Cheesegrater – aka The Leadenhall Building – in the City of London

Find out about serviced offices in the Gherkin here.

The Cheesegrater – City of London

The proposed development of the ‘Cheesegrater‘ building in the City of London – also known as The Leadenhall Building – is a controversial 47-storey skyscraper standing at 736 ft. It gained its nickname because of its distinctive wedge-shaped design, which was created to protect views of St Paul’s Cathedral. Upon completion, the building is designed to bring 612,000 sq ft of office space to the City.

Walkie Talkie Tower – City of London

20 Fenchurch Street, or the ‘Walkie Talkie‘ tower, is a 36-storey building that was designed by architect Rafael Vinoly. The top-heavy structure provides bigger office suites on the top floors that, due to the striking views and prestige associated with higher floors, can therefore command higher rental values. The building is also designed to be sustainable, with features such as solar shading and a roof garden.

The Armadillo – aka the Clyde Auditorium – in Glasgow

The Armadillo – Glasgow, Scotland

Affectionately known as the ‘Armadillo’, the Clyde Auditorium is a 3000 seat concert hall which forms part of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow. Although it bears some resemblance to the animal armadillo, architect Sir Norman Foster actually designed the structure to represent an interlocking series of ship’s hulls, in reference to the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage.

Find out more about the Armadillo concert hall here.

Worldwide Buildings

The Basket Building – in Ohio, US

The Basket Building – Ohio, US

This unusual office building in Newark, Ohio is the HQ of the Longaberger Basket Company. This enormous basket is a replica of the company’s famous market basket, cost $30 million and took two years to complete. It was designed by Longaberger founder Dave Longaberger, who reportedly said: “If they can put a man on the moon, they can certainly build a building thatΓÇÖs shaped like a basket.”

Find out more about Longaberger here.

The Willis Tower – aka Sears Tower – in Chicago, US

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) – Chicago, US

One of the US’s most rejected and hotly contested naming conventions surrounds the iconic Willis Tower. Formerly the Sears Tower, in 2009 the structure was part-leased by London-based insurance broker Willis Group Holdings Ltd. The company obtained the building’s naming rights as part of the agreement and controversially changed its name to Willis Tower in July 2009. Local residents reacted angrily to the change and many still refer to it as the Sears Tower. Standing at 1,451 ft, this office building is currently the tallest in the US.

Cybertecture Egg – Mumbai, India

This 13-storey office building in Mumbai features sustainable elements including a green roof and the ability to harness solar and wind power. This building provides bathrooms that monitors staff’s health by measuring weight and blood pressure, and customisable ‘virtual views’ that provide real time scenery from around the world.

Find out more about the Cybertecture Egg here.

The Robot Building – Bangkok, Thailand

The Robot Building – Bangkok, Thailand

The Robot Building, based in the Sathorn business district of Bangkok, was designed by architect Sumet Jumsai who found inspiration in his son’s toy robot. Completed in 1986, Jumsai’s design reflects the computerisation of banking, and was created as a reaction to high-tech postmodern architecture.

Find out more about the Robot building here.

Do you have any more to add? Send them to or leave a comment below.

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Why not take a look at our feature, Serviced Offices in Iconic Buildings? This highlights the most impressive locations of serviced office centres from the UK and around the world, including London, New York, Kuala Lumpur and Taiwan.


Author: | April 8, 2010 | 0 Comments

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