The Shard
Shard London Bridge May 2012
The Shard in May 2012




UK London, United Kingdom


310 m (1,016 ft)

Floor Count

95 (including plant floors)
72 (habitable)


Renzo Piano


£435,000,000 (contract cost only)

Construction Started

March 2009


May 2012

The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in London. Its construction began in March 2009 and it was topped out on November 2012. It opened to the public in , by booking only. Standing 310 metres high, the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union, and the second tallest in Europe, after the Mercury City Tower in Moscow. The Shard is also the second tallest free-standing structure in the United Kindom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor Transmitting Station.

The Shard replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in Southwark in 1975. Renzo Piano, the Shard's architect, worked with the architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage. The glass pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244 metres.


The Shard was designed in 2000 by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect previously best known for creating Paris’s Pompidou Centre in collaboration with Britain’s Richard Rogers. That year, the London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar decided to redevelop Southwark Towers, a 1970s office block next to London Bridge station, and flew to Berlin in March 2000 to meet Piano for lunch. According to Sellar, the architect spoke of his contempt for tall buildings during the meal, before flipping over the restaurant’s menu and sketching aniceberg-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. He was inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships.


Renzo Piano, the project's architect, met criticism from English Heritage, who claimed the building would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London", giving the building its name, the Shard. Piano considered the slender, spire-like form of the tower a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city, and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. He proposed a sophisticated use of glazing, with expressive façades of angled glass panes intended to reflect sunlight and the sky above, so that the appearance of the building will change according to the weather and seasons. The building features 11,000 panes of glass, with a total surface area of 56,000 square metres (600,000 sq ft).


Floors Space Designation
73-95 Spire
68-72 Observatory
53-65 Residential Apartments
52 Spa
34-52 Shangri-La Hotel
31-33 Restaurants
2-28 Offices
1 Main Lobby