The Shard


Towering over the station, close to the banks of the Thames on the south west edge of the London Bridge business district, The Shard has put London Bridge on the world map.

On the site of Southwark Towers (previously the London headquarters of PwC) the actual construction of The Shard was completed in 2012 and the building opened for business in February 2013.

Including retail, the plush Shangri-La Hotel, offices and restaurants, the Shard has also generated improvements for the public realm, including a much-needed revamped bus station.  Over twice the height of the London Eye and designed by the acclaimed architect Renzo Piano, the Shard is the tallest building in Europe reaching 72 storeys and includes a spectacular viewing gallery at 800ft.


1999: After a government white paper encourages the development of tall buildings at major transport hubs, Irvine Sellar decides to redevelop Southwark Towers, a 1970s office complex he had acquired, and which was occupied by PwC.

2000: Sellar meets Renzo Piano in Berlin and asks him to create a ‘vertical city’ on the Southwark Towers site – a place where people would work, live, visit and enjoy themselves. They agreed it was fundamental to have public access to the building – something that would be unusual for a tall structure in London.

2003: Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announces he is satisfied with the architectural quality of the proposed building and that construction can go ahead

2007: Developers buy the occupational lease from PwC and preparations are made for demolition of Southwark Towers

2008: After the financial crisis causes problems for the project, a consortium of Qatari investors steps in to provide funds and work to demolish the Southwark Towers begins in April

2009: Demolition of the existing site is completed and construction starts in March

2010: As construction continues, the concrete core of the building rises steadily by approximately three metres a day until in November, it becomes Britain’s tallest building, replacing One Canada Square in Canary Wharf.

2011: The core is topped out in early 2011 and as work continues, by late December 2011, the Shard overtakes the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt to becomes the tallest building in the European Union.

2012: On March 30, the 66-metre spire was winched into place, bringing the tower to its full height. The building is inaugurated in July by the Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, in a ceremony attended by Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

2013: The viewing platform is officially opened by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, on 1 February. The Shard’s restaurants and bars – Hutong, Oblix and Aqua Shard – open over the summer, at the same time as the first office tenant, Duff & Phelps, moves into the building. In November, Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Prince Phillip visit The Shard.

2014: In February, The View from The Shard reported one million people visited the attraction in its first year. More office tenants move into The Shard, including Mathys & Squire, Foresight and South Hook Gas. The Shangri-La Hotel opens in May to critical acclaim. In June, The Shard announces another three office tenants have leased space, while later in the year Al Jazeera (September) and Warwick Business School (November) move in.