Spectacular Company HQs: More Work-of-Art Than Place-of-Work

We've scoured the globe to find the very best buildings that some lucky souls get to call their 9 to 5. If there are such things as offices you'll never tire of working in, then here they are.
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Whatever they're paying the window cleaner, it isn't enough.

Lloyd’s building, London

Britain’s answer to the Pompidou Centre, the home of venerable insurers Lloyd’sis one of the City of London’s most iconic buildings. Designed by Richard (now Lord) Rogers and completed in 1986, its ‘inside out’ approach was a UK first, as was its use of external glass lifts. It includes an 18th century panelled dining room on the 11th floor, painstakingly transferred from the old Lloyd’s building across the street.

Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco

At 853 feet (260 metres), William Pereira’s fantastic sci-fi-influenced skyscraper was the tallest west of the Mississippi when it was finished in 1972. Built as the HQ of US insurer Transamerica, it still features prominently on the company logo, though the firm is now centred elsewhere. Designed to withstand an earthquake, in 1989 it was rocked for more than a minute by a 7.1-scale shock some 60 miles (97 km) away, but remained undamaged.

Torre Agbar, Barcelona

Similar in shape, but somehow more monolithic than the slick geometry of London’s arguably more famous Gherkin, Jean Nouvel’s priapic masterpiece was apparently inspired by a nearby mountain. Built of reinforced concrete with a glass façade, its multicoloured skin is a nod to local legend Antoni Gaudí and is lit up at night by thousands of LEDs. It houses the head office of Barcelona’s local water company.

IAC Building, New York City

Few HQs polarise opinion like Frank Gehry’s rippling showboatin Chelsea, Manhattan, finished in 2007 – surprisingly, the original ‘Starchitect’s’ first ever corporate building in New York. But it certainly makes a statement, which is what IAC’s boss, media mogul Barry Diller, asked for in the first place. It’s like billowing sails during the day and a glowing lantern at night, said Gehry. It’s more like an office building, not too fancy, by a highway, said Business Week.

In 1989 it was rocked for more than a minute by a 7.1-scale earthquake some 60 miles away, but remained undamaged.

CCTV HQ, Beijing

This extraordinary structural feat was designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, with Arup handling the engineering complexities that make it actually stand up. The building is a loop of six vertical and horizontal sections, constructed as two separate buildings that were joined at dawn on 26 Dec, 2007. It is among the first of 300 new towers going up in Beijing’s Central Business District, a potent reminder of China’s growing economic power.

Hearst Tower, New York City

The global centre of the Hearst Corporation literally builds on founder William Randolph Hearst’s Landmark six-storey HQ, itself a base for a skyscraper that was never built due to the Wall Street Crash. Designed by Norman (now Lord) Foster, the new tower was the first to break ground in NYC after 9/11. Completed some 80 years after the truncated original, it raises the roof by 46 storeys.

CMA-CGM Tower, Marseille

Just being finished off now, the French shipping-container company’s HQ is the first tower to be built in Marseille for 30 years. Now the tallest building in town, it’s part of an ongoing major redevelopment of the neglected waterfront. Rising up 482 feet (147 metres) on a small strip of land, its blue glass façade with two sloping sides is ‘elegant, fluid and sculptural’, as you would expect from über-hip architect Zaha Hadid.

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