London: Shard inauguration and opening details

At the Shard inauguration skyscraper in London, the new landmark’s architect and investors outline their vision for its future.

With external work on the Shard now complete, the controversial development has reached its complete height of 1016ft (309.6m) and the structure’s current silhouette will loom over London unaltered. In advance of its official inauguration today and a citywide laser show scheduled to celebrate the building tonight, its backers and lead architect Renzo Piano gathered at a press conference to discuss its development and their hopes for its future.

Irvine Sellar, the founder and chairman of Sellar Property Group which developed the building, described the structure as a “vertical town” unmatched in scale. A mixed-use 95-storey building, it is to have offices, private residences, a five-star Shangri-La hotel and spa, restaurants and the capital’s highest viewing galleries – The View from the Shard. Its development has proven divisive, with some critics claiming its immense height will dominate London’s skyline. Responding to these comments, Sellar has said his company has no plans to develop a building of similar dimensions but recognised it may have “set a trend” for others to follow suit.

The architect behind the building is Renzo Piano, who conceded that the building may not be to everyone’s taste initially: “We do a very dangerous job as architects; if you make a mistake it lasts a long time… [But] I don’t justify the Shard dominating London’s landscape. Every classic building was new at one time. The building is a mirror of London, the weather and the humour of the city.”

The Shard is owned by LBQ Limited, comprising the State of Qatar (the majority shareholder) and Sellar Property Group, with non-equity funding by Qatar National Bank. At the press conference, governor of Qatar Central Bank Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al-Thani called the building “a symbol of Qatar’s belief and commitment to London both today and in the future.

As yet details on which companies will occupy the building remain unknown. Coy when asked about this Sellar responded: “We’re in discussions with a number of parties interested in acquiring office space but those discussions are currently confidential.” The building is scheduled to be fully occupied by the end of 2014, with retail space occupying the second floor, offices and winter gardens occupying floors 4-28; restaurants on floors 31-33; the Shangri-La hotel and spa on floors 34-52; private residences from floors 53-65 and The View from the Shard viewing platform on floors 68-72. The View from the Shard is scheduled to open on February 1, 2013, with advance tickets costing £24.95 per adult and £18.95 for children.

The focus of today’s inauguration celebrations is to be a sprawling five-minute laser display that begins at approximately at 10.10pm. At around that time some 12 lasers and 30 search lights will beam out from the Shard towards other established London landmarks, as a classical-music soundtrack booms out. It all ends with the illumination of the Shard itself, which will be lit from all sides by giant searchlights.

Source: The Telegraph

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