Development of the Shard, Europe’s tallest, and first major mixed-use building has now reached the point where its steel skeleton is appearing over the top of London Bridge station and is becoming a highly visible presence to the 375,000 users of the rail terminus.
Part of the steel frame that will form the backbone to the 310 metre high Shard is already at floor five and is indicative of the speed with which this landmark development, rising to the equivalent of 80 storeys, is being constructed.
On this occasion, His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saoud Al-Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank said “This is a significant milestone in the construction of the Shard as it marks a new and exciting phase in the project. Over the coming months, the Shard will begin to take shape above the streets of London, a testament to the vision and hard work of our team.” His Excellency added: “We are confident that the Shard will become a landmark on the London skyline and a symbol of the close ties between Qatar and the United Kingdom.”
The Shard is the first phase of one of London’s most important urban regeneration projects which has created a blueprint for what will become the capital’s newest quarter – London Bridge Quarter. Equally important, this important project represents one of the largest investments by the State of Qatar in the United Kingdom.
Totalling approximately 1.4 million square feet, London Bridge Quarter will comprise two buildings, the Shard and London Bridge Place. The Shard will offer 586,000 sq ft of prime offices, a 5-star hotel, signature restaurants, residential apartments of the highest quality in the United Kingdom and viewing galleries. The Building is scheduled for completion in May 2012 and will form a remarkable backdrop to the Olympics being staged only a few miles away later that summer.
London Bridge Place will offer 419,000 sq ft of prime commercial office space, ideally suited to a corporate head office. Designed by leading international architect, Renzo Piano, a piazza will link the two buildings with London Bridge Station transforming the area into a vibrant public domain and making London Bridge Quarter the centre of a rejuvenated South Bank.
The estimated value of the London Bridge Quarter is about £2bn, and will make a major contribution to the continuing regeneration of this already exciting part of London’s South Bank and help make Southwark a destination for both international business and tourists alike. LBQ will provide employment for up to 12,500 people.
Agreement for two pre-lets have already occurred: Transport for London which is occupying approximately 192,000 sq ft in the lower levels of the office space (floors 4-10), and Shangri-La which has pre-let the hotel accommodation in the building (floors 34-52), amounting to almost 174,000 sq ft.
One of the major features of the Shard is that it is a building accessible to the public. Not only will there be a mixture of restaurants and shops on the mid levels, there will also be a public viewing gallery at the very top. At approximately 850ft, visitors will be treated to stunning views of the capital and its surrounding countryside. It is estimated that more than 1 million people a year will take advantage of the highest public viewing gallery in Europe.