Though the building is spectacular, it is far from harmonious with its neighbors. Even though the shockingly modern Lloyds of London Headquarters is just a few blocks away, 30 Saint Mary Axe is nestled in a neighborhood of quietly decaying townhouses and churches.
This is an area that has stood silently for eight hundred years as London grew up around it. The insertion of a sparkling curved skyscraper in its midst is startling to unsuspecting pedestrians ambling along the narrow streets.
The building that used to be on this site was the historic Victoria Baltic Exchange, built in 1903. That building was heavily damaged in a terrorist bombing executed by the Irish Republican Army in 1992. Preservation groups pushed to save the building, but the damage was too extensive and the cost too great to save it.