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The Ever Changing City Skyline - Wren’s Cathedral to Rees’s Towers

A walk surveying the City with its charismatic former chief planning officer

Understand the Square Mile’s business development through its architecture, streetscapes and watering-holes

See the City from the heights of the Walkie-Talkie’s Skygarden

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  • Buildings in the City (left: St Helens; right: 30 St Mary Axe a.k.a. ‘The Gherkin’), photo ©Alex Van.
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Overview

For twenty-eight years Peter Rees was the City of London’s chief planning officer, and since 2014 has been Professor of Places and City Planning at University College London. Charismatic, articulate and passionate about planning, he has done more to shape the City’s current appearance than any other single individual, and this is an exceptional opportunity to hear his story and to understand how and why London looks as it does.

Starting at St Paul’s, we see some of the planning challenges posed by the ‘reframing’ of the Cathedral over the last decades. Paternoster Square was redeveloped following a tortuous process of consultation, royal intervention and redesign. After a visit to the roof-top space at Jean Nouvel’s 1 New Change, there is a surreptitious stroll through The Royal Exchange, the City’s centre of gossip, and an exploration of the hidden alleyways between Cornhill and Lombard Street. Here banking was born, and City pubs still fulfil a vital business role.

From the mid-1980s, and boosted by the ‘Big Bang’, the Square Mile became larger, swallowing parts of neighbouring boroughs. Broadgate is a fine example of a late 20th-century business quarter with ground-scraper buildings accommodating large dealing floors for international banks and fine publicly-accessible spaces providing the social opportunities which are conducive to business activity. Only 25 years later, the development is being refurbished and some buildings replaced.

Having grown outwards in the 80s and 90s, the City is now growing upwards, with a cluster of office towers sited to maximise their proximity to an abundance of public transport while minimising their impact upon the London skyline. A Gherkin sits alongside a Cheese-Grater, and the Walkie-Talkie provides a high-level opportunity to contemplate the ever-changing City below.  

Start

10.30am, St Paul’s tube station.


Finish

c. 7.00pm, The Walkie-Talkie, 20 Fenchurch Street EC3.


Price

£220. This includes lunch, refreshments and one taxi journey.

More information about London Days gift vouchers.


Fitness

Most of the day is spent outside and on foot, both standing and walking. 

Are you fit enough to join the tour?


Group size

Maximum 18 participants.


Cancellation

We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to info@martinrandall.co.uk. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.

Map: London Days.

'A feisty and utterly fascinating lecturer. Prf. Peter Rees entertained us with unique insights and amusing anecdotes.'

'The level of expertise and knowledge demonstrated by the leader would be impossible to find anywhere else.'

'Well chosen destinations.'

'The lecturer could not be bettered, highly professional, enthusiastic, and full of highly amusing and instructive anecdotes to keep us on our toes.'

'Peter Rees' enthusiasm for his subject shone forth, it was excellent to have the opportunity to meet someone with such personal experience of the area, and such a likeable personality.'

'Outstanding; we were led down hidden alleyways and shown buildings from many unforeseen angles. The coffee, lunch, tea and cocktail venues are "just the ticket" - unknown and wonderful. 

'Is there a greater word than "excellent". Peter Rees is the very spirit of the City. He knows it and understands it and, vitally, loves it. I don't believe there is another living soul who could have shown us so much, told us so much or kept us as completely enthralled.'