One Canada Square and Docklands Light Railway Station signal a new generation of transit-focused development

London, UK

One Canada Square and Docklands Light Railway Station are at the center of Canary Wharf, an ambitious transit-focused development that shifted London’s financial center from the Square Mile to the site of a historic dockland east of the city center. This visionary placemaking project brought Londoners from cramped, disconnected city offices to state-of-the-art facilities linked to the public transit network. Since the early nineties, One Canada Square has remained vibrant and resilient through multiple economic recessions, political uncertainty, and massive shifts in technology. It was one of the first towers in Europe to incorporate North American planning principles with large and efficient open-floor plates. The tower’s future-proof design continues to serve iconic financial institutions, while adapting seamlessly for fintech companies, postgraduate higher-education organizations, and co-working spaces.

60,000
daily commuters through Docklands Light Railway Station

A thriving and connected neighborhood by day or night 

Docklands Light Railway Station ignited Canary Wharf’s growth by linking it to established public transit networks in London. The lobby of One Canada Square connects directly to Docklands Light Railway Station and an expansive retail building with shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and a public winter garden. The retail building is a popular destination for events and performances, with a portable stage and flexible seating, lighting, and audio systems. The station’s stainless steel and glass roof celebrates the dramatic vaulted spaces of London’s historic stations with a modern aesthetic that faces the future with confidence and joy.

A deconstructed drawing of the roof at Docklands Light Railway Station.

Reflecting the modern ethos of a historic city 

One Canada Square is the tallest tower in Canary Wharf. The tower’s iconic obelisk form is an elegant square prism that culminates in a pyramidal crown. Clad in stainless steel panels with a soft linen finish, the tower reflects subtle changes in London’s famous grey skies and expresses warmth on even the darkest days. The tower’s striking inverted corners accentuate its form, so it appears taller and thinner than it is. These articulated corners also direct abundant natural light into the interior, all the way through to the inner ring of corridors at each level. From its inception in the early nineties to today, One Canada Square continues to be the epicenter of Canary Wharf, attracting top talent from London and around the world.

One Canada Square with its simple square prism terminating with a pyramidal top is the centerpiece of the Canary Wharf development.

The tower is a recognizable landmark that is viewable from neighborhoods across London, including Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill. 

“The pyramidal form makes a three-dimensional building of what would otherwise be just folded planes. It also strengthens the axis mundi — the vertical line that goes through skyscrapers and connects heaven with Earth. This connection has been recognized in many cultures for several centuries now.” 
— César Pelli, FAIA, RIBA, JIA 

The Canary Wharf development as seen from Greenwich, across the River Thames.

More About the Project

Principal Collaborators

  • Associate Architect: Adamson Associates International, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: W.S. Atkins Transportation Engineering, M.S. Yolles & Partners
  • Mechanical Engineer: The Mitchell Partnership (TMP)
  • Electrical Engineer: H.H. Angus & Associates

Project Information

  • Location: London, UK
  • Client: Olympia & York
  • Size: 1,748,296 sq. ft. / 162,422 sq. m.
  • Height: 771 ft. / 235 m.
  • Completion: 1991
  • Firm Role: Design Architect

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