Framed ‘Gherkin Guide’ in The Gherkin - November 26th 2013

Another Gherkin Milestone! Today a framed picture of Baizdon's Gherkin Guide went on permanent display in the Searcys art gallery at the top of the building. (On the 38th floor of the Gherkin there is a glass walkway with the view on one side and an art gallery on the other. Of course the pictures have stiff competition from the view but there has been some stunning art on display and every three months a new exhibition goes up.) Beneath the picture there is a recommendation for my Gherkin Talks as Searcys expert on the building, which is just fantastic. I am beside myself with joy and pride! ‘You are grinning like a small child’ one of the staff told me '50% child, 50% businesswoman.’ I replied, still grinning.

 

Massive thanks to Yana Revenko from Searcys for the idea and to GM Danny Kaljee for approving it. Brilliant framing by Chris from Soho Framers - I had no idea there would be so many different coloured steels to choose from for the frame or that the non-reflective glass would be so key. 

Baizdon's Gherkin Guide goes on permanent display at the top of the Gherkin   

Baizdon's Gherkin Guide goes on permanent display at the top of the Gherkin

 

Grinning like a child - or  "50% child, 50% businesswoman"   

Grinning like a child - or  "50% child, 50% businesswoman"

 

LV= Charities Lunch November 15th 2013

LV= recently gave some of their Advisers the opportunity to nominate their favourite charity to receive a £1,000 donation. To acknowledge the brilliant work done by all the charities and to say thank you they got everyone together at the Gherkin as the guests of James Bilton for a champagne buffet lunch and the presentation of the donations. Each charity representative and their nominees were invited to bring a guest and we all enjoyed hearing from each charity about their work. It was a wonderful and very moving afternoon and I was delighted to be able to add to the guests’ enjoyment with stories about the building, escorting each charity up to the very top for the presentation of their giant cheques by Justin Harper was very special. LV= also presented everyone with a copy of The Gherkin Guide as a memento of their day.

The charities were Niamh’s Next Step; Macmillian Cancer Support; St.Peter’s Hospice; Cancer Research UK and Richmond Fellowship.

Justin Harper presents cheque to Richmond Fellowship, Croft House at the LV= Charities Lunch

Justin Harper presents cheque to Richmond Fellowship, Croft House at the LV= Charities Lunch

 

 

 

 

Millions of people at Gherkin for Open House London - 21st & 22nd September 2013

Last weekend I volunteered to answer questions at the top of the Gherkin for visitors during Open House weekend. I welcomed millions to the top and it has taken me a whole week to recover (well, ok, I exaggerate – it was only about 5,000 people and I did get eventually my voice back on Tuesday night…)

Day 1. The queue had already reached the end of St Mary Axe when Ben and I arrived at 7am, an hour before opening time. We chatted to everyone waiting and discovered that the couple at the very front had arrived at 6.15am. While Ben helped Jason from Searcys set up the Gherkin Guides I heard all about the success of Maggie’s Culture Crawl from three women who had made friends on the overnight route, watch the sunrise from the top of the building (the last stop on the Crawl) and stayed to chat. That was the last time I relaxed (or sat down) for the next 12 hours.

The building opened, the aim being 50 people every 15 minutes. It felt like an unstoppable ocean of visitors – I welcomed people as they came out of the lifts (congratulations you’ve reached the top of the Gherkin, thanks for queuing) , directed people (look out to the west on level 39, up the stairs to the glass dome – you must see the 360˚ view on level 40) answered everyone’s questions (Norman Foster, 7429 panes of glass), asked children if they could spot the only piece of curved glass in the building (they absolutely loved discovering it), took photos of people with their cameras for them (if you stand just here both you and your reflection will be framed by the diamonds of the building, it’s an amazing shot) and entertained queues waiting for the lifts down with facts and stories (one time for 20 minutes as the lifts stopped working!) It was a really lovely atmosphere at the top – we were all aware everyone had been waiting for ages to get in and all the Open House volunteers joined me in saying ‘Welcome to the Gherkin!’ ‘You’ve made it’ and ‘Thanks for waiting in the queue!’ as people arrived. The security staff were fantastic, smiling throughout and chatting as they brought people up in the lifts, and not a single person complained when their time at the top was over. Ben and Jason proved to be brilliant at selling books, which was just as well because I was hopeless – constantly answering questions, helping identifying things in the view or rushing to welcome another lift full of people. I spotted Victoria Thornton, the founder of Open House London, at one point and let everyone know who she was – she received a huge round of applause.

I did leave the top once when I popped out and speak to people in the queue – it took me 1.5 hours to walk around it!!! I thanked people for their patience, told them it was extraordinarily marvellous at the top and worth waiting for and that I would see them at the top to answer their questions. Of course, everyone wanted to know how long the wait was  and I could only tell them the 30 St Mary Axe team were trying to get 80 people in every 15 minutes (rather than 50) to try and fit in as many people into the building queue as possible. If they pushed for an exact time I had to say I was doing ‘queue encouragement’ and someone from the building would be round to do ‘queue management’! In the end we stayed open till 6pm, two hours later than advertised. The last people left by 7pm – I got home at 9pm and had to lie down the moment I got in.

Our first visitor of the day!

Our first visitor of the day!


Day 2. Twitter came into it’s own for me this weekend – in the early morning queue I met Natasha (@ishootandtravel ) who had tweeted the day before that the #gherkin queue had put her off, I had replied back that she should try coming early – she did and so got to the top in the first bunch of the day and took some amazing photos. There were loads of other lovely messages on Twitter throughout the day (and over the days since). The Sunday queues were really long and again the 30 St Mary Axe team extended the opening hours to try and get as many people in as possible. After the queues closed the Open House volunteers were allowed in to thank them for their work over the weekend – after that they went off to a celebratory party, I had no voice left and went home to lie down again.

The Gherkin Guides proved very popular which was wonderful, and on Monday morning someone who had visited showed hers to her boss – who immediately contacted Searcys and ordered 200 copies – hooray!

The whole weekend was great, I’m glad I did it. Right now I think I’m never doing it again!!

Our best dressed visitors! Thanks to Mum and Dad for photo permission. 

Our best dressed visitors! Thanks to Mum and Dad for photo permission. 

The Gherkin Guide sellers (in a rare moment sitting down!) 

The Gherkin Guide sellers (in a rare moment sitting down!) 

1,000 Gherkin Guides for Open House London - 13th September 2013

I meet Searcys The Gherkin GM Danny Kaljee today to discuss using one of the photos from ’360˚ at the Gherkin’ in his Christmas campaign – we decide on the South West view, taken at dawn on a snowy morning – it will look fabulous. I remember the morning we took it. It had been snowing all week, as yet it hadn’t settled in the City but I was positive that finally it would stay overnight and made Baizdon photographer Joe Plimmer promise to meet me outside the Gherkin at 6am. Searcys opened the Club early for us and Joe got the most spectacular shots – both the east and the south-west photos in the book are from that morning.

Danny also asks me to bringing 1,000 extra Gherkin Guides especially for the two-day Open House weekend, as they will be on sale at the top of the building. 3,000 visitors are expected over the two days. I am thrilled – but do wish I could offer them to people waiting in the queues, everybody will be a fan of the building so they will love all the information in the Gherkin Guide and Adam Parker’s unique metre long image of the building – it would certainly help make the waiting time more enjoyable! 

Designs on The Leadenhall Building - September 6th 2013

Today I have a Baizdon meeting with Matthew White of British Land in Searcys Club The Gherkin to discuss the possibilities around Baizdon producing a tall building Leporellos for The Leadenhall Building (as it is included on a list of buildings we would like to feature). Seems to go well, perfect place for looking across at The Leadenhall.  Matthew  recommend’s me to his colleague (always lots of stages to go through but the fact that The Gherkin Guide was produced after nine months of negotiation always keeps me persevering.)

I enjoy talking about The Leadenhall in my Gherkin Talks at Searcys events – people love learning that the Cheesegrater shape was the solution to the need to preserve the sight lines to St Paul’s. Richard Rogers (Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners) explains it like this “One of the arts of architecture is to use constraints, turn them upside down and see whether they can help you to design the building”

The last day of the Sierra Leone Leadership course - August 30th 2013

The delegates surprise me by coming less formally dressed, a Friday workplace tradition there as well as here. Some are wearing traditional African clothes and this prompts a discussion on where I should go to get the best African shirts for my husband and son. Alsuine (Immigration number 2) tells me he will take me to Victoria Park in the morning. The final day is packed and very successful, we have covered a lot of ground, worked at a sufficiently high level and everyone has a clear action plan for their next steps.  I give everyone a copy of The Gherkin Guide and they all say they will think of me when they see the building on the TV (I tell them to think of Norman Foster too!) The feedback is great and I let the group know they have given me as much as I have given them. Alfred takes a quick photo on my phone before Mr. Koroma arrives for the official closing and presentation – looking at it later I realise he has captured a very relaxed moment (Albert is even holding a cup of tea!) and I’m glad to have it to remember everyone by.

We hire the Hotel Mariam car and driver to give us a tour around Freetown after dark, navigating the numerous holes in the roads is very different in a regular car to travelling in a 4 by 4 government vehicle and I’m sure we do lots of extra miles just avoiding the holes! The capital is absolutely overflowing with happy, colourful, noisy life and I’m so glad I got to see it at night – the biggest crowds are at bars showing European football matches, football is massive here – they even show it at the cinema. They don’t show anything else.

A relaxed moment captured – nice to have this as a contrast to the formal photo taken shortly afterwards (nobody smiles in the formal photos).

A relaxed moment captured – nice to have this as a contrast to the formal photo taken shortly afterwards (nobody smiles in the formal photos).