LONDON-International construction heavyweight Skanska is taking on another high-flying project in this global metropolis, having been awarded the contract to erect Heron Tower, a 46-story, 750,000-sf office building near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Site preparation and demolition of two existing structures at 110 Bishopgate is already underway, to be followed by construction of the skyscraper beginning early next year.

Officials for Sweden-based Skanska, which has also been selected to construct a $100 million project in Pennsylvania as exclusively reported today, place the value on Heron Tower’s contract at about $515 million. The revenue will be recorded in the fourth quarter. Skanska has already provided pre-construction services for the long-awaited structure and developer Heron Corp., assisting in the design and planning process and helping identify appropriate materials. Seeking to speed the process to bring the property on line by the first quarter of 2011, the substructure and building are being developed simultaneously using a top-down engineering method.

Designed by New York City based KPF Architects, Heron Tower has been in the planning stages since 2002. The process was delayed when the developers sought to increase the building from 42 stories, a change approved last year. The evolution is also incorporating the latest in sustainable design, including photovoltaic glass that can be cooled by recycled air. The façade’s design was also slightly adjusted, more for aesthetic reasons.

Heron Tower is just the latest contribution to the London skyline by Skanska. The firm has also had a hand in London’s second tallest building, the 594-foot 30 St. May Ave., as well as the Ministry of Defence’s headquarters in Whitehall and Palestra. Existing London projects include One Kingdom St., Paddington Central and Queen Anne’s Gate.

Development of Heron Tower comes amidst a sustained period of growth for London, as tight office vacancy rates are encouraging a wave of new construction. The Square Mile area around Liverpool Station has been especially active in the past two years, as evidenced by the 36-story Broadgate Tower at 201 Bishopgate and the 48-story Leadenhall Building, another tower just now getting underway. KPF is project architect for the 307-meter tall Difa Tower, also on Bishopgate. London’s emergence as one of the world’s leading financial centers, coupled with a modern economy driven by high-tech and life sciences, is driving demand for new space, as is the upcoming 2012 Olympics.

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