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The Shard
The Shard from the Sky Garden 2015.jpg
The Shard in April 2015, viewed from the "Sky Garden" atop 20 Fenchurch Street
Former names London Bridge Tower
Alternative names Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge
General information
Status Complete
Architectural style Neo-futurism
Location London, SE1
United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°30′16″N 0°05′11″W / 51.5045°N 0.0865°W / 51.5045; -0.0865Coordinates: 51°30′16″N 0°05′11″W / 51.5045°N 0.0865°W / 51.5045; -0.0865
Construction started March 2009
Completed July 2012
Opening 1 February 2013
Cost ~£435 million (contract cost only)
Owner State of Qatar (95%)
Sellar Property Group (5%)
Architectural 309.6 m (1,016 ft)
Observatory 244 m (801 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 95 (72 habitable)
Floor area 398,490m2 1,307,383sqft
Lifts/elevators 36
Design and construction
Architect Renzo Piano
Developer Sellar Property Group
Structural engineer WSP Global (structural engineers), Robert Bird Group (concrete temporary works), Ischebeck Titan on most floors 40+ (concrete support)
Services engineer Arup
Main contractor Mace

The Shard (also referred to as the Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge or the London Bridge Tower) is a high-rise building in Southwark, London. The Shard was built in July 2012. It is 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high. It was the tallest building in the European Union until late 2020, and 96th tallest in the world. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the 330-metre (1,083 ft) concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.

The Shard replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office building built on the site in 1975. Renzo Piano was the Shard's architect. Piano is best known for creating Paris’s Pompidou Centre in cooperation with Britain’s Richard Rogers. Piano worked with the architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage. The tower has 72 floors that can be used for offices, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck – the UK's highest – on the 72nd floor, at a height of 245 metres (804 ft). The Shard was designed with an irregular pyramidal shape from the bottom to the top, and is covered entirely in glass. Its structure was completed in April 2012. It opened to the public on 5 July 2012.

The Shard was designed in 2000. 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 an iceberg-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames. He got his ideas from the railway lines next to the site, the London spires in the paintings of 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships.

In April 2008, demolition of Southwark Towers was going on. Scaffolding and white sheeting covered the building. By October, Southwark Towers was much shorter and was no longer visible on the skyline. The building's demolition was completed in early 2009, and site preparation began for the construction of the Shard.


Each floor of The Shard is used for a particular purpose. The majority of the building is used for accommodation and for offices. On the higher floors, they are reserved specifically for the purposes of taking views of the entire city, which takes advantage of how significantly tall the building is.

Floors Floor area Space designation
73–95 Spire
68–72 758 m2 (8,159 sq ft) Observatory
53–65 5,772 m2 (62,129 sq ft) Residential apartments
52 Spa
34–52 16,198 m2 (174,354 sq ft) Shangri-La Hotel
31–33 5,945 m2 (63,991 sq ft) Restaurants
2–28 54,488 m2 (586,504 sq ft) Offices
1 2,102 m2 (22,626 sq ft) Lobby

Source: Shard London Bridge brochure, 2010

Preceded by
One Canada Square
Tallest building in London
310 m
Succeeded by
Preceded by
One Canada Square
Tallest building in the United Kingdom
310 m
Succeeded by

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