Long before it was completed or opened, the London Shard was the centre of swirling controversy, contradictions, conspiracies, rumours and stories. No one could quite agree on a name for the structure. I mean it was only just recently that it came to be known as the ‘The Shard.’ It was previously known as London Bridge Tower, Shard London Bridge and Shard of Glass. The building was also opposed by local authorities, the Royal Parks Foundation and English Heritage.
Towering above everything and standing on London’s South Bank, it has dramatically altered the London skyline, notwithstanding the Gherkin, Millennium Dome, City Hall and London Eye. It is claimed that on a clear day you can see France from its viewing galleries. London Bridge Rail and Tube Station, located at its base, is the closest rail station. The Shard was designed with an irregular pyramidal shape from base to the top and inspired by the church steeples that once defined London’s skyline.
Scheduled to open to the public on 1 February 2013, this tower of glass is the tallest building in the European Union. On the night of July 5th, 2012, the building’s inauguration was accompanied by a choreographed light and laser display comprised of twelve lasers and 30 searchlights that lit up the city. Thousands of Londoners clambered to rooftops and other high public spaces to watch the blue, green, purple and gold laser show.
Its shiny, glistening bluish look definitely takes the eye and has also attracted the attention of conspiracy theorists. Some have even likened it Sauron’s (the bad guy in The Lord of The Rings) tower as depicted in the movie series. There are supposedly plenty of Freemason and Illuminati symbols openly and covertly embedded in its pyramid-like structure. Perhaps only the architect, Renzo Piano, can clear up these perceptions.
Some Facts about the Shard
• It is 1016 feet (309.6 metres) tall
• 95 storeys
• It has 11,000 glass panels
• The area of the glass façade equals eight football pitches
• 95 percent of the construction materials are recycled substance
• 72 of the floors will be occupied
• 15 levels are the ‘spire’
• 4th to the 28th floors will be office space
• 31st to 33rd will be restaurants and other dining facilities
• 34th to 52nd floors are taken by the Shangri-La Hotel and Spa (200 luxury rooms
• 53rd to 65th for 10 exclusive residences
• 68th to 72nd – public observation decks and galleries
• The 72nd floor has an open-air observation deck