30 St Mary Axe is a scyscraper located in the main financial district of London, the City of London. Originally, it was home to the Swiss Reinsurance Company, which, however, in 2007 sold it to the German company IVG Immobilien. A few offices still belong to the Swiss group.
The building, an emblem of the London skyline since 2004, was designed by Norman Foster & Partners. The 40-storey, 180-metre tall tower in a peculiar shape of a rocket, was constructed in a futuristic style of steel and glass. The glass coating allows better use of daylight and a significant savings in lighting, making the building sustainable and environmentally friendly.
It has acquired a number of humorous nicknames like the 'crystal phallus' (a pun on Crystal Palace) or the 'erotic gherkin' (reference to its phallic shape). The building has won a number of prestigious awards for architecture, including the 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize, a prize awarded by The Royal Institute of British Architects.