Every classic rock fan recognizes London’s Battersea Power Station. It’s the huge power plant featured on the cover of Pink Floyd 1977 concept album Animals, with an inflated pink pig flying between its enormous chimneys. This week, that indelible image is floating back into the public eye once more. Yesterday, it was revealed that Apple will move its U.K. headquarters to the building, eventually occupying all six floors of a freshly converted office space that could ultimately house 3,000 employees.
For London-watchers, this relocation had particular significance. Battersea Power Station’s size, location and unmistakable silhouette make it one of only a few 20th century structures in London that truly deserves the epithet “iconic.” And in many ways, the vagaries of its 81-year history reveal the twists and turns in London’s recent path. And the view from that path hasn’t always been pretty.