Shard London Bridge or The Shard (formerly known as London Bridge Tower or the Shard of Glass) is a skyscraper in Southwark, London. Standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) above ground level, it is the tallest building in Europe as of July 2012. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the 330-metre (1,083 ft) concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.
The Shard replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office building constructed on the site in 1975. Renzo Piano, the Shard’s architect, worked with the architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage. The tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck – the UK’s highest – on the 72nd floor, at a height of 245 metres (804 ft). The Shard was designed with an irregular pyramidal shape from the base to the top, and is clad entirely in glass. Its structure was completed in April 2012, and it opened to the public on 5 July 2012.
The Shard was announced with the hope that it would be the tallest building in Europe, surpassing Frankfurt’s Commerzbank Tower, which, at 259 m (850 ft), had held the record since 1997. The Commerzbank Tower was later surpassed in height by three Moscow skyscrapers, Triumph-Palace,Naberezhnaya Tower, and the City of Capitals (301.60 metres), all of which were in turn surpassed by the Shard. On 22 March 2012, Moscow’s 332-metreMercury City Tower reached 310.8 m (1,020 ft), exceeding the final height of the Shard. Nevertheless, the Shard became the tallest building in the European Union in December 2011. It may eventually be surpassed in the EU by the 323-metre Hermitage Plaza building planned for La Défense in Paris.
See an amazing 360 degree view from the Shard here
Another London skyscraper, the Bishopsgate Tower, was originally proposed to rival the height of the Shard. However, because of concerns from the Civil Aviation Authority, the height of the Bishopsgate Tower was later reduced to 288 metres (945 ft). Via Shard London Bridge. Click here to see the Tallest Buildings in the World