8 Canada Square

Coordinates: 51°30′19″N 0°01′02.6″W / 51.50528°N 0.017389°W / 51.50528; -0.017389
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8 Canada Square
General information
LocationCanary Wharf
London, E14
United Kingdom
Construction started1999
Completed2002; 22 years ago (2002)
Height200 m (656 ft)
Technical details
Floor count45
Floor area164,410 m2 (1,769,700 sq ft)[1]
Design and construction
Architect(s)Foster and Partners

8 Canada Square (commonly referred to as the HSBC Tower, or the “Tower of Doom” by some HSBC employees)[2] is a 45 floor skyscraper in Canary Wharf, London. The building is the global headquarters of the HSBC Holdings.[3]

Design and construction[edit]

Having been commissioned by the owners of the Canary Wharf Site to do the outline design prior to gaining site-wide outline planning permission, and because he had designed HSBC's last head office at 1 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, Sir Norman Foster (now Lord Foster of Thames Bank) was appointed as architect.[4]

Construction began in January 1999, with work beginning on the installation of the 4,900 glass panels commencing in the summer of 2000. The work was carried out by Canary Wharf Contractors.[5]

8 Canada Square in 2004, two years after completion.

The topping out ceremony took place on 7 March 2001, with the hoisting in of the final steel girder attended by bankers, journalists and contractors. The first HSBC employees began work in the building on 2 September 2002, with phased occupation completed by 17 February 2003, and the building's official opening, by Sir John Bond, taking place on 2 April 2003.[6]


The building has 45 above ground floors and 4 basement floors:[7]
Floor Use
43-44 Lighting system for the building's crown, which also functions as the air intake/exhaust for the air-handling units on this level.
40-42 Audiovisual facilities for presentations, videos, and conference calls.
9-39 Floors 9 through 39 are occupied by offices and conference rooms, with the exception of floors 15, 25, and 34, which are "transfer floors" used to transfer between the four elevator banks.
8 The central equipment room (CER) on this floor is the building's main IT hub, containing necessary equipment for building operations, including local computers and networking gear. It also houses exchanges for the building's telephone extensions. Each floor has satellite equipment rooms (SER) for communication wiring, with over 700 IT cabinets on this floor requiring extensive cabling.
7 Air handlers, gas-fired boilers for generating domestic hot water, serving the level 5 gym changing facilities and the level 6 and level 1 kitchens and Uninterruptible power supply units

The uninterruptible power supply units on this level ensure an instant standby electrical supply for the eighth floor.

6 Client dining rooms
5 Gym with around 120 machines and partially used for trading aswell.
2-4 Trading operations, including treasury, capital markets, and equities trading
1 850-seat Staff Restaurant that serves around 2500 meals daily.
Ground Lobby and Reception
B1 Canada Place Mall/HSBC UK Branch
B2 - B4 Parking


In April 2007, HSBC Tower was sold to Spanish property company Metrovacesa, becoming the first building in Britain to be sold for more than £1bn.[8] As part of the sale, HSBC retained occupancy control and agreed a 20-year lease at a cost of £43.5m per annum.[9]

In December 2008, after Metrovacesa encountered problems with re-financing the bridging loan that HSBC had provided it and as part of a wider debt restructure for Metrovacesa, the bank bought back the property. HSBC stated it had made a £250m profit on the deal.[10]

In November 2009, HSBC once again sold the building, this time to the National Pension Service ("NPS"), the public pension fund for South Korea. HSBC's income statement on completion declared a gain of approximately £350million resulting from the transaction.[11]

In December 2014, Qatar Investment Authority completed the purchase of this building at an undisclosed price, but the building was expected to fetch more than £1.1 billion (US$1.73 billion).[12] NPS was advised by the estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle and GM Real Estate.[13][14]

Occupancy issues[edit]

In September 2022, a leaked internal memo stated that HSBC was considering whether to renew its lease on the building when it expires in 2027, or whether it would relocate to other premises in London.[15]

In February 2023, The Times reported that roughly 10 floors had been mothballed, having embraced home-working.[16]

In June 2023, the bank subsequently confirmed its intention to move out of the building by 2027 in favour of a property in the City of London.[17][18]

Crane accident[edit]

On the 21st May 2000, three workmen employed by Hewden Tower Cranes were killed in a crane accident when the top of a Wolf Luffing crane snapped off into the adjacent North Colonnade area.[19]

An inquest three years later had heard a special safety plug was missing and that there was no anemometer in the crane cab to measure wind speed, although there were no weather problems that day.

The three workmen were Michael Whittard who was 36 from Leeds, Martin Burgess who was 31 from Castleford, West Yorkshire, and Peter Clark who was 33, from Southwark in South London.[20]

A memorial plaque under a tree opposite 8 Canada Square is in memory of these three men who lost their lives that day.[1]

Falling glass[edit]

In the summer of 2003, one year after the completion of the tower, the first incident of a glass panel was recorded when it had fallen from the 42nd floor of the tower. This incident was during the early morning hours, and no one was injured.[21]

On June 9, 2004 yet another window panel fell from the plant floors of the tower on the 43rd floor. This had mirrored an almost identical incident a year prior, this time with a reported near miss by a security guard in the afternoon.

Another incident was reported seven years later in 2011, when part of the HSBC signage had fallen off and smashed to the ground. The glass had fallen over 150 metres onto the building's western entrance. The North Colonnade area of Canary Wharf was subsequently closed off while inspection took place. There were no reports of any injuries.[22]

Extinction Rebellion[edit]

On the morning of 22nd April 2021 - coinciding with Earth Day, the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion vandalised the lobby windows of the tower using chisels and hammers, attempting to smash the glass as part of the protesting against the banks fossil fuel financing.

Those involved were subsequently arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. Damages relating to the vandalism amounted to approximately £500,000 were caused by the group.

Similar actions of vandalism were carried out by the group at Barclays Head Office also in Canary Wharf at One Churchill Place earlier that month.[23]


Scaffolding used for the removal and installation of signage.

In early 2013, the tower underwent significant renovation work relating to the installation of new signage, replacing both the embedded lettering and hexagons within the glass panels across all four sides.

This work was carried out by contractors tara signs, which both engineered and installed the new signage. The project was finished in late 2014.[2][3]

The towers signage pre 2013 renovations.

The now current signage uses a specially formulated LED enhancing Polycarbonate, giving the appearance of black lettering during the day, and illuminated white during the night.

Lighting behind the tiles were also replaced from fluorescent tube lighting to LED, although rarely used.

The new signage on 8 Canada Square at night in August 2014.

As of 2018, the HSBC logo installed on the tower is now out-of-date, displaying the previously used font and positioning of the hexagon.[4] It is assumed that the signage will not be updated in the near future due to the bank’s intention to vacate the premises in 2027.[17]

Stephen and Stitt[edit]

Stephen and Stitt are found at the main entrance of 8 Canada Square. The pair were commissioned for the towers opening in 2002, soon to be the groups new headquarters.

The lions were cast within sight of the development by the Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry in Limehouse.[24]

Stephen, positioned to the left of the entrance.
Stitt, positioned to the right of the entrance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "8 Canada Square". Skyscraper Center. CTBUH. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  2. ^ Cruise, Sinead; Withers, Iain (29 September 2022). "HSBC to review Canary Wharf tower HQ, consider new London base". Reuters. Archived from the original on 29 September 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  3. ^ Treanor, Jill (15 February 2016). "HSBC to keep its headquarters in London". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Projects – HSBC UK Headquarters – London, UK – 1997–2002". Foster + Partners. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  5. ^ Canary Wharf Contractors website
  6. ^ "HSBC Tower, London". OpenBuildings. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  7. ^ "The HSBC Headquarters, Canary Wharf, London" (PDF). The Arup Journal (2/2003): 19 – via bullionstar.com.
  8. ^ SkyscraperNews.com (April 2007). "HSBC Tower Sold For Record Price". SkyscraperNews.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2007.
  9. ^ "HSBC sells Canary Wharf HQ". The Guardian. 30 April 2007. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  10. ^ "HSBC buys back Canary Wharf HQ". The Guardian. 5 December 2008. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Tower sold for third time in two years". Financial Times. 14 November 2009. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  12. ^ "Qatar Fund Buys HSBC's London Headquarters". The Wall Street Journal. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  13. ^ Financial Times (24 April 2014). "Sale of HSBC tower hints at return to property boom times". The Financial Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  14. ^ Euro Property (25 September 2014). "Middle Eastern investor to buy £1.1bn London skyscraper". Euro Property. Archived from the original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  15. ^ Cruise, Sinead; Withers, Iain (29 September 2022). "HSBC to review Canary Wharf tower HQ, consider new London base". Reuters. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  16. ^ Barbour, Scotty (26 February 2023). "HSBC to halve space for head office". The Times. pp. N/A. Archived from the original on 1 March 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  17. ^ a b Withers, Iain (26 June 2023). "HSBC to ditch Canary Wharf tower in favour of central London - memo". Reuters. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  18. ^ Foster, Aurelia (26 June 2023). "HSBC to leave Canary Wharf tower for new world headquarters". BBC News. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  19. ^ "Crane crash trio named". 22 February 2000. pp. N/A.
  20. ^ "Crane deaths 'a mystery'". 13 November 2003.
  21. ^ "Window falls".
  22. ^ "Window pane falls". 7 July 2011.
  23. ^ James, Liam (22 April 2021). "Extinction Rebellion activists smash windows at HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf". Independent. pp. N/A. Archived from the original on 30 April 2021. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  24. ^ "Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry in Limehouse". Bronze Age.

External links[edit]

51°30′19″N 0°01′02.6″W / 51.50528°N 0.017389°W / 51.50528; -0.017389