The Shard's bleeding edge: anatomy of a 21st century skyscraper

Date: 7 December 2011
Upon its completion in May 2012, the 1,017 foot tall skyscraper Shard London Bridge will be the tallest building in the European Union—but its unmissable presence on the London skyline has been felt for over a year.

Since the completion of its 804 foot, 72 story concrete core in early 2011, the Shard has been the tallest building in London. In a city, country, and continent not famed for skyscrapers, the Shard more than stands out.

Observant Londoners have watched as glass facades have crept up around the core over the past weeks and months. It's impossible to look at the Shard without extrapolating its lines upwards to a point, completing the pyramidal form in the mind's eye (crick in the neck notwithstanding). But mock-ups of the completed tower show a pinnacle characterized by a fragmented crown of glassy splinters, not a neat pyramid. Architect Renzo Piano, who conceived the Shard, has compared its shape to "a 16th century pinnacle or the mast of a very tall ship." But "Shard" is the name that stuck, a name reportedly coined by Piano after criticism from the group English Heritage that his design resembled a "shard of glass."

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