New Bloomberg HQ brings together Roman artefacts and contemporary art

Financial giant’s new London base includes sprawling commissions by Olafur Eliasson and Michael Craig-Martin

Olafur Eliasson's No future is possible without a past Photo: James Newton

Vast new site-specific commissions by high-profile artists such as Olafur Eliasson and Michael Craig-Martin have been unveiled in London’s centuries-old financial district. The large-scale installations are among seven pieces dotted around the new European headquarters of the financial data and media giant Bloomberg whose new environmentally friendly building is designed by Foster + Partners.

Arturo Herrera, David Tremlett and Pae White have also unveiled new pieces which are only on view to Bloomberg employees and visitors. A sculptural installation by the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias, Forgotten Streams, is located at two public plazas around the site. A new piece by the Irish artist Isabel Nolan, Another View from Nowhen, is the inaugural installation in the building's public gallery called Bloomberg Space, which will feature a rolling display of works.

The budgets for the works are undisclosed but Eliasson tells The Art Newspaper, “It’s not just about the money… I’m impressed by [Bloomberg’s] commitment to the environment and green funding.” The building is a “true exemplar of sustainable development” says a project statement, with revolutionary water and energy conservation systems.

Eliasson’s piece, No future is possible without a past, is split into two parts: the first element crowns the main foyer while the second part is located at the base of a ramp that spirals from the second floor to the eighth. The installation, a shiny sheet of aluminium that can be viewed from above and below, resembles a rippling water surface. “The budget for the piece was generous and to the point,” Eliasson says.

Isabel Nolan's Another View from Nowhen Photo: David Morgan

The artist adds: “The values of our society are entangled with the economic infrastructure. This building is very much about predicting the [economic] future. I realise this is a future-oriented building that has this relationship with antiquity, hence the title.”

Bloomberg’s headquarters are located on an ancient Roman settlement, home to a temple dedicated to the Roman god Mithras which was built around 240AD. The mithraeum was built on the banks of the Walbrook River, a waterway that inspired Iglesias’s outdoor piece. A new publicly accessible culture hub, entitled London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space, is due to open next month at the site, which will display thousands of Roman artefacts discovered during excavations, along with the reconstructed temple.

Craig-Martin’s work Lexicon, comprising 12 parts, is displayed across the walls of three floors, bisecting across different levels. “The ceilings are not very high, so I had to think about creating a single work and also how the different bits could operate independently. I started making this kind of work in 1978; it’s amazing how this commission has stretched me,” he says. Asked if he likes working with corporate partners, he says: “With things that work on this scale, it is always good that there is someone in charge.”

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 294 October 2017