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The History of the Shard

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The Shard is arguably one of the most iconic parts of the London skyline, rising majestically above the City of London and symbolizing the modern side of the capital.

“The Shard” is a colloquial name for the London Bridge Tower. It is essentially a glass pyramid that stands at the southern end of London Bridge. With a completion date of 2012, it has already been recognized as the tallest building in the European Union.

The Shard was designed by famed architect Renzo Piano in collaboration with Broadway Malyan. Piano began the design in 2000 on behalf of Irvine Sellar. Sellar is a real estate developer in London who intended to redevelop Southwark Towers, which once occupied the site where The Shard now stands. Piano is best known for designing the famous Centre Pompidou in Paris, France.

Design and construction

The term “The Shard” came about because of the building’s resemblance to a shard of glass poking out of the ground. Renzo Piano was keen to create a design that would stand out from the London skyline without trying to be too obtrusive or unrefined. Windows were designed with a special glazing, reflecting light in a characteristic way. The glazing would reflect different intensities of light in ways that would change the appearance of the building at different times of the year or day. The design, currently under construction, was significantly altered after the collapse of the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. The Shard was one of the first buildings to adopt the new building standards recommended by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology after September 11.

Construction did not begin until February 2009, and three huge cranes were erected and used to complete the building. For most of the initial construction, the structure was raised 10 feet per day. Even before the building reached its final height, the first glass panels were installed. The Shard reached its final height of nearly 309.6 feet in 2012. The building is essentially a glass spire surrounding an interior concrete column.


The design for The Shard was commissioned by real estate developer Irvine Sellar of Sellar Property Group. Sellar went to Berlin in 2000 to have lunch with architect Renzo Piano to discuss ideas for the building. Renzo was initially very opposed to the idea of a building of this size in London. The initial designs he produced for the building were strongly opposed by a number of local authorities, forcing him to rethink his design. The redesign morphed into the current design of the Shard.

The Shard – Today

The Shard is a multi-use structure. Floors 2-28 are leased space for offices. The 31st, 32nd, and 33rd floors are all dedicated to restaurants. The Shangri-La Hotel* occupies the 35th through 52nd floors and is a five-star hotel. The residential units are located between floors 53 and 65. There is also an observatory between the 68th and 72nd floors. There is a spire that extends from the 72nd floor all the way to the top.

The closest London Underground stations to the Shard Building are London Bridge, Borough, Monument, Tower Hill, Bank, and Southwark.

Romeo o Romeo

Have you ever wondered or wondered why souvenirs in the Shard’s Sky Boutique usually have a fox with them or why small fox stuffed animals are sold? Well, this is Romeo, the mascot of the Shard. But how did it come about? During the construction of the Shard, a fox was discovered. It is believed that the animal, which was later named Romeo by employees, entered the 309-meter Shard building through the central stairwell. Romeo stayed for a few weeks and survived by eating food scraps left by construction workers working on the incomplete structure.

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