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September 13 2013

*La Suisse rend à l'Argentine le compte UBS de Carlos Menem* ❝Le Tribunal fédéral clôt un dossier…

La #Suisse rend à l#’Argentine le compte #UBS de Carlos #Menem

Le Tribunal fédéral clôt un dossier qui défraye la chronique judiciaire depuis 2001. La justice argentine est ainsi autorisée à analyser tous les mouvements du compte ouvert en Suisse par l’ex homme fort de Buenos Aires, qu’on soupçonne d’avoir touché un pot-de-vin iranien et des rétrocommissions françaises.

June 09 2011

Battle for City's Broadgate site hots up

William Hill giving odds that Jeremy Hunt will not save 'historic' 1980s complex from demolition for new UBS headquarters

Expectations have increased that furious lobbying from the City is likely to prevent the listing of the 1980s-built complex in Broadgate that has become a tug of war between financiers and conservationists.

For the first time bookmaker William Hill has opened a book on a building listing and is giving 4-7 that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will not save the complex.

English Heritage last week recommended that the entire 1980s development, designed by architect Peter Foggo, be given statutory protection at Grade II* level, dealing a major blow to British Land's plans to tear down 4 and 6 Broadgate to make way for a new "groundscraper" building that would house a £340m headquarters for Swiss bank UBS.

Although the law states that the listing decision should be made on the basis of architectural and historic factors alone, Hunt is under pressure from the City of London corporation to ignore his official adviser and choose not to list it.

The City argues that the new scheme is vital to maintain confidence in it as a banking centre. Hunt's decision on Broadgate is due in about two months' time, after submissions from British Land, the local authority and other interested parties.

A spokesman for William Hill said this was the first time it had offered odds in a listing case. "We believe this decision will be as difficult to call as a photofinish but English Heritage needs to upset the odds to come out on top."

The City of London Corporation had approved British Land's 700,000 sq ft scheme, and building was to start this summer, with UBS planning to move in by 2014. The corporation's policy chairman, Stuart Fraser, is due to meet communities secretary Eric Pickles next week to lobby for the UBS building. He said: "The Broadgate buildings aren't worth preserving or listing. They aren't of great architectural merit. Listing Broadgate will send out the wrong message. UBS would probably give up. Eric Pickles is very keen on bureaucracy not getting in the way of economic development."

Catherine Croft, director of heritage group The Twentieth Century Society, which is campaigning in favour of listing, expressed surprise at the odds. "I think it is fairly extraordinary because it suggests that William Hill thinks factors other than the accepted criteria [for listing] may affect the minister's decision," she told weekly trade paper Building Design.

"City boys do like gambling of course but Hunt needs to make his decision on the basis of architectural and historic interest. It would be very wrong for him to be affected by any other factor."

Croft added that she believed there were many other locations in the City suitable for the proposed UBS building, which has been designed by one of the architects responsible for the Gherkin, Ken Shuttleworth of Make Architects.

The planned building, at 5 Broadgate, would boast four trading floors each capable of holding 750 traders and has been described by Shuttleworth as an "engine of finance" with a design resembling an immense machine-tooled block of aluminium.

A spokesman for Hunt's Department of Culture, Media and Sport, noted that it was responsible for regulating both heritage and gambling. "It is always good to see two areas of DCMS come together but, as we always say when it comes to gambling, don't bet more than you can afford to lose," he said. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

June 03 2011

English Heritage deals blow to £340m UBS office

Watchdog backs listing of Broadgate buildings, where the Swiss bank wants to demolish its existing HQ and build a new one

British Land's plans to build a new £340m headquarters for Swiss bank UBS at Broadgate in the City of London have been thrown into doubt after English Heritage recommended the listing of the site on Friday yesterday.

The watchdog said Broadgate Square, designed by Peter Foggo, then of Arup, in the 1980s, is "one of the most important and successful developments of its period and type, possessing special architectural and historic interest, and therefore should be listed at Grade II*".

It added: "Rare for commercial developments, people enjoy Broadgate Square – in this sense, it is a triumph of urbanism, a special place in the financial heart of the capital."

British Land and its private equity partner Blackstone want to knock down 4 and 6 Broadgate and replace them with a new European headquarters for UBS. It has argued strongly against a listing of the two buildings, which are less than 30 years old, saying they were not of high quality and did not possess sufficient special interest to warrant their listing.

The developer also pointed out that the Broadgate arena and octagon had been extensively altered in the last few years and that the arena, which houses an ice rink in the winter, sculptures and open spaces would be retained.

The decision is now in the hands of the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and is expected in about two months, after submissions from British Land, the local authority and other interested parties. Ministers accept the majority of English Heritage's recommendations, although last week they refused to endorse its advice to list the 1970s Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Maidenhead, and in March overruled it on ABK's 1970s Redcar library.

The City of London Corporation had approved British Land's 700,000 sq ft scheme, and building was to start this summer, with UBS planning to move in by 2014. The corporation's policy chairman, Stuart Fraser, acknowledged that Broadgate Square "embodied the newfound dynamism of the Square Mile post-Big Bang," but went on to warn that listing the estate "would damage the City's reputation as a leading global financial centre".

British Land said: "A decision to list would block the £850m investment in Broadgate, raise the question of where to locate 7,000 permanent banking jobs and put at risk more than 5,000 construction jobs, which would be created over the next three to five years, along with the associated economic activity and growth it would generate.

"It would send out a message to the world that London is not 'open for business', undermining the City of London's status as a global business centre." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

January 02 2011

Swiss miss

The proposed new HQ of Swiss bank UBS is an aloof fortress that ignores its responsibilities to the wider community

Good architects should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. That is, meet their clients' needs, design well-made and sustainable buildings, and also add something to their building's setting, such as work with their surroundings to create a place more harmonious/ fascinating/ humane/ pleasurable than it was before. 5 Broadgate, a mighty money factory proposed for the City of London, fails to do this, even though its architect is Ken Shuttleworth of Make, who has been lavishly praised by all three of the chairmen, to date, of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe). "He is one of the best hidden talents in the UK," said one. The second said he was one of the top five architects in the world. The third called his work "extraordinary". Could an architect so brilliant not masticate while ambulating?

5 Broadgate meets every wish of its future occupier, the Swiss bank UBS. It offers 700,000 sq feet of office space, including a stack of dealer floors the size of football pitches. It aims to set high standards of sustainability. It will be, Shuttleworth says, "an expression of the stability of the bank".

To achieve all this requires something big, consuming the sites of two existing buildings. A pedestrian route across the site will be closed, forcing people to squeeze round the edges of the new building's bulk. A covered arcade through the block might have been possible, but this is banned for security reasons, as are shops or cafes at the building's base. The ban is a deal-breaker, apparently: if the City's planners insisted on these humanising touches, UBS would up and go – to Canary Wharf or, worse, Frankfurt.

You might think that UBS is being unduly touchy – it could surely hire enough security to keep al-Qaida or student rioters out of an arcade or coffee shop – but it is not surprising that the planners would want to avert a Swiss flounce. Given that the shaky edifice of the British economy is in thrall to financial services, they would not want to bring down such a heavy blow for the sake of a bit of permeability for pedestrians. There is not much Shuttleworth can do with these macroeconomic forces, and it could be argued that the accommodation of brute finance is what the special enclave of the City of London is about. He can't pretend his building is not big. But he could try to reconcile the scale of the new building with its surroundings.

The site is in Broadgate, the 1980s development highly praised for the unity of its design, for the ways it makes a whole greater than the sum of its parts and its open spaces more important than individual buildings. There have been calls for Broadgate to be listed, which would be overly precious, but one might hope that a new building respects its principles. It shouldn't try to mimic its neighbours, but its rhythms, proportions and materials could create resonances or rapport between the new and the old.

Instead, Make's design announces with maximum force that it is an aloof fortress. Bankers, it says, are people apart from the rest of us. Its windows are defensive horizontal strips in a cliff-like wall. There are terraces high up for the use of UBS staff, but this glimmer of life is suppressed by the hard geometry. It is armour-plated in aluminium (an energy-ravenous material, by the way, although Shuttleworth says he will work with manufacturers to make this the greenest possible aluminium). There is no softening: not a curve or a piece of greenery. The existing buildings, which have layers of stone screens in contrast to the new one's sheer metal, are ignored. We are invited to admire it as a vast piece of sculpture, where the bank's wish for an expression of power perfectly aligns with the architect's desire for a singular artistic statement.

One of the best things that ever happened to Shuttleworth was when Make, now seven years old, was newly founded. His former employer, Norman Foster, had him erased from a group photograph like a victim of Stalin's purges, which supported the image of him as the suppressed creative genius behind Foster projects such as the Gherkin. With the help of some fervent press, a legend was created of "Ken the Pen", a dazzling whiz of a draftsman. He also combined his radical reputation with securing positions of influence. He became a Cabe commissioner and a member of its Design Review Committee, which judges the quality of significant projects. He became Cabe's "champion for schools and the East Midlands".

Commissions flooded in, for significant commercial developments, for private homes for property developers, for the Olympic handball arena, for schools. Make's reputation rode high, even when its completed buildings consisted mostly of a judo hall in Dartford, and the Jubilee Campus at Nottingham University, a set of wedges mottled with a psoriasis of red cladding. The campus was nominated for Building Design magazine's Carbuncle Cup, for the worst building of the year, albeit also for the prime minister's Better Public Building award, sponsored by Cabe.

Make presents itself as everything Foster and Partners are not: collegiate, open to ideas from even its most junior staff, and with no house style. Publications about the practice include pictures of staff weddings and holiday snaps. Profits and credit are shared. It calls itself a "studio", stressing its creative side. Shuttleworth says he wants to create "the best buildings in the world" and above all be sustainable. "I want to save the planet," he says.

Make stress how important clients are, how each one is special, and how its buildings respond to each unique set of needs. Clients of Make praise the company as responsive and professional, and these virtues are obviously important ones. What is lacking is a core of principles: a Make building tends to be as good as its brief, with Ken the Pen's flourishes giving a dressing of art. If UBS wants a defensive-aggressive citadel, it gets it. On another site in the City of London, called London Wall Place, where the planners are being more demanding, it has produced a more subtle design. In Birmingham they have built the Cube, a block of shops, offices and flats, which brings a bit of flash and sparkle to a site that probably needed it.

Make is a perfect distillation of 00s architecture, where genuine professionalism, slick stylishness, and a real if well-advertised commitment to the environment are boosted by hype and infinite adaptability to the demands of the market. This combination makes it an above-average commercial practice. It does not make its employees the hidden geniuses, or the world-top-five architects that their mates at Cabe or some excitable journalists claimed them to be. It says much for the poverty of architectural discourse that anyone could have imagined that they were. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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