Gerald McLean: photographing the Gherkin
Designed by Foster + Partners and opened in April 2004, 30 St Mary Axe has become a truly iconic building. Photographer Gerald McLean returns to one of his favourite subjects and tells us why he loves 'The Gherkin'.
See also: Architecture photographers choose their best shot
DC: Why 30 St Mary Axe (AKA The Gherkin)?
GM: I'm completing photographic studies of a number of London's best and most recognizable buildings in production of an architectural photographic 'best practices' techniques book; which I'm writing (working title - Breaking Through The Grey, which alludes to the indifferent climatic conditions British professional architectural photographers must contend with daily).
DC: What do you like a bout The Gherkin?
GM: This is one of those rare buildings that have an understated quality of design. Like a fractal, the overriding design is repeated the closer you look. With a trained eye, new angles, abstract compositions and emotions reveal themselves as you explore and experience the spaces without and within. The internal spaces of the upper floors, determined by the external design, relieve the feeling of vertigo experienced in buildings of lesser height. All of which I find lead to a feeling of wellbeing, to occupants and visitors alike, without losing any of the spectacle and grandeur of the 360 degree views over the City of London and further afield.
DC: How do you view 30 St Mary Axe's (The Gherkin) importance to London's skyline?
GM: I consider the ability of a building's/structure's/shape/design to identify a city's skyline is in its silhouette. For example, although not ubiquitous; with the opening of Las Vegas's 'High Roller' (2014) the outline of the London Eye is no longer unique to London, and the block-like structure of many buildings are easily mistaken, if viewed out of context to their immediate neighbors. The Gherkin is an unmistakable landmark seen from any angle or distance, un-brash, yet more impressive the closer you get.'
Gerald McLean extends his thanks to 30 St Mary Axe for photographic access.