The Shard

The Shard to open in London tomorrow

The Shard – Europe’s tallest building - will be officially unveiled in London tomorrow.

The Shard, which stands 1,016ft tall, was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. It has 11,000 glass panels, and will contain offices, exclusive residences, a luxury hotel, restaurants and a viewing gallery across 72 occupiable floors. There are a further 15 levels which make up the "spire" - six of which have the potential to be used, with another nine exposed to the elements.

Ninety-five per cent of the construction materials are recycled and 20 per cent of all the steelwork is from recycled sources.

The Shard is joint-owned by the state of Qatar and the Sellar Property Group, and it was funded by the Qatar National Bank. It was originally only nicknamed The Shard after Piano described the building as a "shard of glass" in the planning stages, but the name stuck.

The building will be inaugurated by the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, and The Duke of York.

Londoners will be treated to a spectacular laser show to be projected from The Shard shortly after 10pm. The event marks the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013.

Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank, said: "The Shard is the newest London landmark and a beacon of the city of London's resilience and expansion, even during tough economic times.

"It is a symbol of Qatar's belief and commitment to London both today and in the future.

"We have a long heritage and continued commitment to invest and build in the UK for the long term and The Shard highlights this close relationship."

The skyscraper is part of a 2m sq ft development in Southwark called London Bridge Quarter.

The Shard and its sister development The Place are linked with London Bridge Station through a new central plaza, public realm, bus station and train station concourse.

The Shard's tenure at the top of the European height chart is likely to be short-lived, as the 1,089ft Mercury City Tower in Russia is set to be completed by the end of the year.

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