The Shard is due for completion in May 2012 and is listed as the European Union’s Highest Tower. It’s completely clad in glass, why it’s been dubbed the Shard of Glass.
The spear-shaped and glass-clad skyscraper whose reflection will be changing along with the weather and seasons, is designed according to the vision of Renzo Piano, the architect renowned for creating Paris’ Pompidou Centre of modern art. Rumor has it that on their first meeting, Piano presented the investor, Irvine Sellar, with a sketch of the proposed structure scrawled on a napkin followed by a full-fledged monologue on how much he finds high rises detestable.
The author’s reflexive misgivings might have had an influence on its path of realization. Project-wise, The Shard has been experiencing great problems. The local community and heritage guardians strongly protested as they didn’t want Southwark Towers, a skyscraper dating back to 1976, torn down on behalf of The Shard. Protests were organized and held on account of that issue. The tower will stand at 310 meters (1,017 ft) tall consisting of 72 floors and 15 additional radiator floors on the roof, which also spiked controversy. Even Prince Charles, well-known within the UK for his proneness towards architectural criticism, disdainfully dubbed it “London’s Cheesegrater”. Following the mocking and complaints, the British Government had to intervene, and ultimately gave it the go-ahead, “because of its exceptional design”, as stated in the official government letter.
Piano, plagued by criticism from all sides, went on to explain his vision, pointing out the impression of fragility it exudes within the context of the powerfully penetrating surrounding South Banks’ structures. From May 2010 when the first glass board was set on The Shard, more than two thirds of the tower has been completed to date. According Irvine Sellar’s vision, it’s set to become the first “vertical city” in the world, to address the city’s growing population and need to maximize space.
The tower will be used for a multitude of purposes. The Shard’s interior includes offices, residential apartments and a hotel, as well as restaurants and an open terrace, where an annual turnover of two million people is expected. The Shard is but one in a series of impressive architectural projects London has lined up in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.