THE £450m landmark redevelopment of St Giles’ Circus has passed another important milestone – a crane has placed a large Belgian oak tree at its centre.
The 16-tonne tree, currently just over 50ft, was selected by world-famous Italian architect Renzo Piano to be the centrepiece to his
12-storey complex of offices, flats and restaurants in what is traditionally the less illustrious part of the West End.
It took a team of 15 workmen to deliver and position the 80 year-old oak, which could grow to 100ft and live for hundreds of years.
Piano, who was behind such iconic feats of architecture as the Pompidou Centre in Paris and Paternoster Square in the City, scoured the world for months to the find the perfect tree for the 500,000 sq ft Bloomsbury site.
He eventually happened upon a Belgian nursery, one of only two locations in Europe – the other being in Germany – with trees of the right age, size and height.
Simon Wilkes, project director at Legal & General, co-owners of the development with Mitsubishi, said: “We hope that this magnificent oak tree and our public artworks will enhance the experience of visitors to our scheme and help create a real sense of place.”
The new piazza is due to open to residents, businesses and visitors in May and half the 109 new homes on the site will be social housing.