In the very initial stages of its construction, the curved skeleton of the Gherkin slowly stretched past the London skyline. Now, six years after its completion, the structure can be seen from far and wide, its blue pickle shape rising above familiar sights like Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Megan Lane of the BBC writes, “as an instant icon of 21st century Britain, it has all but supplanted the Routemaster bus and Big Ben as shorthand for London on TV, in ads, and on film. In “Love Actually,” it reared above Liam Neeson as his on-screen son told of a schoolyard crush during a stroll along the South Bank.” Though still a relatively young building, the Gherkin has already become a visual cue for the capital, something erected in the popular consciousness as a shortcut to the city of London.
The tall, spiraling building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Lord Norman Foster and Ken Shuttleworth, and constructed between 2001 and 2004. It has already won the Stirling Prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects-- it was the first time the prize had ever been awarded unanimously.
But in spite of its critical acclaim, no one expected the Gherkin to become a popular icon quite so quickly. Even Foster is still surprised by the structure. He told the BBC, “We did all the modeling, all the computer simulations to explore how it would look and how it would sit in the City. Yet I love that I still get unexpected views of it from all over London, and unexpected reflections of other buildings in its walls.”