It’s easy to exaggerate the significance of a single architectural project, but I don’t think anyone can doubt that London will never be the same again when The Shard reaches it’s final height of 310m – just 14m short of the Eiffel tower.
We’ve all been watching it rise up above the Tower of London for the last few months of construction, and it’s already visible from Battersea Bridge at the bottom of my road; but what really made me appreciate it’s presence was a recent drive into London from the west on the A40. I was miles out, at Hangar Lane, and even there, with the rest of the city skyline flattened by the distance, it stood out and made itself known. London is different: however far away you are; whatever angle you look from.
For some breathless statistics, we need the Sun, and writer Carl Stroud:
DWARFING everything else in sight, London’s latest landmark is now officially 800ft tall.
The sleek lines of The Shard dominate the capital’s skyline — and it’s growing ever higher.
When it is completed at the end of the year it will reach an incredible 1,016ft into the air and will take the title of Europe’s tallest building.
But for now, with 72 floors complete, it is just Britain’s tallest building and remains an imposing presence close to the River Thames at London Bridge.
From its summit views stretch for 50 miles in every direction.
Westwards you can see as far as Wembley and, beyond, Heathrow’s control tower. To the east you can see across the whole of the 2012 Olympic site to Dartford.
The £1.3billion glass pyramid will be open to the public when it’s finished.
There will be a viewing gallery at the very top, on level 72. Beneath that will be 12 floors of apartments — expected to cost £10million each.
Then there is the five-star Shangri-La hotel and spa, a restaurant and shops, which will sit above 595,000sq ft of office space.
The statistics for this extreme construction, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and mainly Qatar-owned, are mind-blowing.
They have already poured the equivalent of 22 Olympic swimming pools of concrete, reinforced with 5,000 tons of steel rods to complete the central spine.
Late last year they did a 36-hour continuous pour of concrete — enough to fill the clock tower of Big Ben.
Now the outside surface is being clad with reinforced glass — 11,000 panels of it.
Do I like it? I think so, but I’m not quite sure. I’m biased, because I love monumental architecture, and I’ve thought for ages that we need a really big building in London. I like its simplicity and poise; its non-Mies-van-der-Rohe-angles; its place by the river – so daring to be so close to the Tower, instead of hiding it away in Docklands.
I wish it was slightly more interesting. This is going to be our Eiffel Tower, whether we like it or not; and the Eiffel Tower is far more beautiful. But let’s wait and see. I’ll pass judgement when it’s finished.