Tonight, Renzo Piano’s Shard will officially celebrate its opening complete with an amazing light show. A dozen lasers and thirty searchlights will beam streams of light across the city, creating a network between 15 other significant landmarks in London, such as the Gherkin, London Eye, Tate Modern, and Tower Bridge. (So, if you are in London, don’t miss the event at 10.15 this evening, and be sure to share some photos with us!)
Capping out at 310 meters, the Shard has become the tallest building in London, as well as the entire European Union. We have been following the history of Renzo Piano’s creation, and although laden with financial troubles, a change in developers, and criticism from Londoners, the project has finally reached completion.
More about the history of the tower after the break.
With what all began as a quest to redevelop London’s Southwark Towers in 2000, The Shard quickly gained attention of the heritage bodies. Concerns were raised over the tower’s massing and height, as the structure blocked views from certain angles of London’s historic landmarks, such as St. Paul’s and the Palace of Westminster. Yet, in 2003, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott decided, …”For a building of this size to be acceptable, the quality of its design is critical. He (Prescott) is satisfied that the proposed tower is of the highest architectural quality.” And, so, the vision for London’s newest tower was still allowed to progress.
But then…the financial crisis of 2007. Although a change in developers ensured enough financial security for construction to continue, many disagreed with the tower’s tangible expression of wealth and extravagance at a time when the city could not share such sentiment.
Nevertheless, the Shard continued its rise toward the sky, and, in late November of 2011, it became the tallest building in London and in England. The cladding and spire were finished during 2012, and upon its opening ceremony, the tower will make history as the tallest building in Western Europe.
Although opinions vary on the project, the Shard will definitely become a fresh icon for London – and its completion comes just in time for millions to take their first peak at the structure while viewing coverage of the Summer Games. We found this clip of an Olympics commercial, and check out the end few seconds where the Shard’s presence is clearly celebrated as it stands tall amidst London’s great landmarks.