London developers telling tall storeys – use a famous architect and gain an extra 19 floors

Top architects are changing the City’s soaring skyline
Developers are hiring “trophy architects” as a way to play the “game of planning rules” in London and secure further building permission for an extra 19 floors, increasing the site value by an estimated 130 per cent.

A London School of Economics study found that a quarter of London’s skyscrapers were now designed by so-called “trophy architects”, a term for those with a life-time achievement award. This compares with only three per cent in Chicago and zero in Brussels.

The study said famous architects such as Norman Forster, who designed The Gherkin, Rafael Vinoly, who designed the Walkie Talkie, and Renzo Piano, responsible for The Shard, gave added clout to projects, boosting developers’ potential to increase space by around 19 floors.

The three architects easily fit the “trophy architect” criteria. Forster is only the second British architect to be awarded the Stirling Prize twice, Vinoly holds the Neutra Medal of Professional Excellence and Piano has won the Pritzker Prize, often considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.

The report comes in the wake of soaring rents in London, which has earned the capital the title of most expensive city in the world for workers to live in.