This monument can be viewed from everywhere in the city, making it clear that it is one of London's most renowned structures. It has 95 storeys and is 309.6 meters (1,016 feet) tall. The Shard, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is a must-see. It was opened to the public in 2012 after more than 10 years of construction.
The Shard took more than 250,000 hours to build and is made up of 3,000 tons of glass that makes up 45 percent of the building's surface area. The top floor has a restaurant with panoramic views of London.
It is known as "the world's first luxury hotel" because of its range of luxurious amenities. There are 740 rooms across five floors, including 50 suites with views over London.
The Shard has been named after the famous shard, a piece of rock that forms part of the British Isles. The word "shard" comes from the Old English sceard, which means "a pointed piece of rock".
The building was conceived by French architect Renzo Piano who also designed New York's Guggenheim Museum. He wanted to create a landmark that would be easy to recognize from anywhere in London and serve as a reminder of the city's rise as a global financial center. The Shard is estimated to be worth £150 million ($220 million).
The Shard is the highest structure in the United Kingdom and the eighth tallest building in Europe, standing at 309.6 meters (1,016 ft). It is also the second-tallest free-standing building in the United Kingdom, after the Emley Moor transmitting station's concrete tower. The Shard has been called "the world's most expensive skyscraper" and "the greatest brick building on earth".
It is located on the South Bank of London overlooking the River Thames, between Battersea Bridge and The City. The site was previously occupied by a gas holder with an antenna attached to it that was used as a radio transmitter for the energy industry. This is now the only thing left of the former structure, which was demolished in 1989.
The Shard first opened its doors to visitors in 2012. Although it is still under construction, it has already become a popular attraction with its viewing galleries and restaurants.
The building is owned by the publicly funded London Development Agency, which leased it back to the contractor BDP for £15 million ($20 million) with an option to buy. The contract required the builder to be ready to complete the project by 2015, but this deadline was later changed to 2017.
The building is designed by British architect Renzo Piano who also designed New York's John Hancock Center.
The 2000s witnessed a surge in skyscraper construction, primarily in the City of London and Canary Wharf. However, The Shard at London Bridge has been the tallest skyscraper in London since 2010, reaching 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) in 2012. There are currently no plans to construct another such tower.
The city's first skyscraper, The Tower Hill, was completed in 1894. It was followed by several other buildings of similar height, but these were mostly commercial offices and did not contain any hotel rooms or apartments for rent. That changed in 1996, when One Canada Square was built. This is now Europe's tallest residential building at 310 m (1031 ft).
There are also three church towers that reach 300 m or higher: those of St Paul's Cathedral, Christ Church Spitalfields, and Saint Mary-at-Hill. Two more churches have spires that reach 289 m: those of Holy Trinity Brompton and St George's, Southwark.
In addition, Liverpool Cathedral has two towers each measuring 287 m, while Manchester Cathedral has one of these that reaches 275 m. And Leeds Minster has two towers each 210 m high.