The view from the top of the Leonardo is quite spectacular, says Legacy Group development director Jamie Hendry.
“It really is a 360º experience. On a clear day, you can see the Magaliesburg mountains and the Voortrekker Monument, in Pretoria, from the north side of the building, and OR Tambo International Airport and Joburg city from the south. At night, the sparkle of the city lights is something truly special.”
The R3-billion Leonardo, in Sandton, is poised to steal the crown of Africa’s tallest building, the 50-storey, 223 m Carlton Centre, in downtown Johannesburg, by the middle of this year.
But Hendry emphasises: “It’s not a competition. The Carlton Centre has been a stalwart and a landmark of much appreciation to many of us in the building industry since 1973.”
US-based news corporation CNN in January declared the Leonardo one of “the most antici- pated buildings in the world in 2019”.
It is in great company. For example, Under, in Norway, will be the world’s largest underwater restaurant, while Beijing’s new Daxing airport will serve 72-million passengers a year.
Ken Reynolds and the Nedbank Property Partners team joined forces with Bart Dorrestein, the founder of Legacy Group, to develop the Leonardo.
Legacy is known for its collection of luxury products, including hotels, resorts, lodges, executive suites and residential estates. These include the Michelangelo Towers and Hotel, the Davinci Hotel and Suites and the Raphael Penthouse Suites, in Sandton.
The lead contractor on the Leonardo project is JSE-listed Aveng Grinaker-LTA. The architect is South Africa’s Co-Arc International Architects. Emeritus architect Francois Pienaar, together with Patrick McInerney and Catharine Atkins, created the vision for the Leonardo.
The principal contract for the Leonardo works was signed on October 25, 2015, with physical construction starting in January 2016.
55 Floors, Plus a Skydeck
The Leonardo will boast 55 storeys, with the ‘56th’ storey – on top of the Leonardo suite – featuring a sky bar and viewing deck.
The developer did not set out to build the tallest building in Africa, explains Hendry.
“While the infrastructure and foundations were designed for a 55-storey building, we launched Phase 2 as a 33-storey building onto the market, with Phase 1 being the basement structure and podium.
“In response to the market’s reaction, we increased the building to 43 floors.”
“Then, in the third quarter of 2018, Legacy decided to develop a multifloor shell within the building for a future six-star Legacy Hotel.”
The development comprises two levels of public areas off the street, linked by escalator to an interactive lobby space, which will be home to the reception area for the apartments, penthouse suites and offices, along with a coffee shop and bar.
There are 1 300 parking bays.
On the 7th level, linked by shuttle lifts directly into the parking garage, resides the heart of the development, with landscaped gardens, restaurants, a bar, a crèche, a gym and a spa.
There are also 7 500 m2 of sectional title offices.
Two-hundred and thirty apartments will rise up to the 41st level.
The next ten floors are the development floors bought by Legacy. The floors are earmarked for a luxury hotel to be established in the future, depending on demand and conditions in the hospitality sector.
“This will be a Legacy hotel and like all our properties, it will be something special,” says Hendry.
Above the development floors are eight penthouses and the Leonardo suite, reaching from the 49th to the 55th levels.
And, yes, confirms Hendry, there is strong interest in what is billed as “Africa’s ultimate apartment”.
The 3 200 m2 Leonardo suite will feature 1 900 m2 under-roof living space and 1 300 m2 of outdoor patios and gardens, with a 20 m lap pool and gym area.
The eight penthouse suites will also have their own gardens.
Of the 230 standard luxury apartments, only 19 remain on the market, says Hendry.
Of the eight penthouses, three have been sold.
There is only 300 m2 of office space left for sale.
“Every floor in the tower section has balcony space surrounding the building,” explains Hendry.
“These balconies create natural shade in the apartments and not only enable owners to enjoy an outdoor experience but also significantly reduce the air-conditioning load. “Owners are able to open the sliding doors and windows for fresh air.
“Performance glazing further enhances the reduction in energy cost.”
The building’s air-conditioning system is designed to support water heating through heat recovery units.
Throughout the development, a low- voltage design approach was adopted for the electrical and electronic installations, adds Hendry.
In the event of load-shedding, the building has 4 MVA standby power, which should be sufficient for “everything but the air-conditioning”.
The building’s high-speed lifts were imported by Schindler Lifts South Africa, but assembled locally.
“We’ve imported a limited number of materials where local alternatives were not necessarily available, but we have not imported any skills in the building of the Leonardo,” says Hendry. “All installation works have been carried out by South African businesses.”
There are currently just under 2 000 people working on site.
The two biggest challenges in building the Leonardo have been the vertical transport of goods and people, as well as the fact that the Leonardo was constructed on a fairly tight site located within the bustling, but confined, heart of the African economy, notes Hendry.
Statement of Faith
“When we made the decision to go to 55 floors, we wanted this building to stand as a statement of our belief in our wonderful country,” says Hendry.
“The Leonardo is an expression of confidence in South Africa’s future.
“The opportunity to take the [building] to 55 floors is an exciting experience for all of us who have participated in the development of the Leonardo. It has been an amazing team effort.”