Warsaw skyscraper becomes tallest in EU, developer says

The Palace of Culture and Science is seen from the construction site of Varso Tower, which has become the tallest building in the European Union according to its developers, in central Warsaw, Poland February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW (Reuters) - The Varso Tower, a skyscraper in central Warsaw, has become the tallest in the European Union, its developer said on Tuesday, after workers mounted an 80-meter (262-foot) needle bringing the total height of the building to over 310 meters.

But, despite its unique architecture and the fact that it is now taller than London's Shard and Frankfurt's Commerzbank Tower, some of the building's ambitions have been hampered due to the coronavirus pandemic, developer HB Reavis said.

The skyscraper, expected to open in early 2022, is supposed to have a special viewing deck and two high-speed glass elevators that will transport guests at the speed of 8 metres per second, according to press material.

There will also be space for restaurants and bars overlooking Warsaw's city centre, on top of rental office space.

But construction and rentals have both slowed down or been put on hold amidst the spread of COVID-19.

"As with the whole economy, the office rental space industry had a tough time last year. Many potential decisions by renters were suspended or postponed until later," Maciej Olczyk, the construction project manager, said.

He added that the pandemic hit hardest during the first wave, when many services were put on hold, but that adjustments have since been made to facilitate a safe work environment.

Adjustments to office spaces include additional ventilation and more regular cleanings of ventilation systems, protective screens at reception desks, contactless solutions like motion sensor lights and doors and frequent cleanings of common areas, the company said.

Olczyk said that he was optimistic companies would still rent out spaces in the "architecturally unique" Varso Tower, especially once the pandemic passes.

"Companies are still treating this as a temporary situation," Olczyk said. "I think everyone is looking to return to normalcy, like it was before the pandemic."

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Kacper Pempel and Lewis Macdonald; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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