An embarrassing truth: The first time that Becky and I saw The Shard, London’s new tallest building, we thought it wasn’t finished. To us it seemed like there was some significant work to do to finish up the ragged top. Perhaps, we thought sadly, in the new reality of the post-Financial Crisis days, the builders ran out of money before they were finished. In fact it seems that the subtleties of the Shard’s neo-futuristic design were lost on us. Construction of the Shard was finished the first time we saw the building. After all, though we didn’t know its name at the time, the building is called the Shard for a reason.
With more visits to London we’ve become accustomed to the Shard’s unfinished look. Widely visible, the new skyscraper dominates the city’s skyline. It has replaced the London Eye as the city’s newest iconic structure.
It was a surprise to learn that the Shard is taller than any other building in Europe. Even so, the Shard is over 400 feet shorter than the eighty-plus year old Empire State Building. Nonetheless, the Shard dominates the skyline of London in a way that the New York’s Empire State Building has not done for decades. There just aren’t that many tall buildings in London and the Shard is over two hundred feet higher than the next tallest building.
The height of the Shard is most noticeable from its viewing deck. From the enclosed viewing floors, visitors look down on whole of London. It is an unobstructed view more like what you get from a helicopter than from a fixed observation deck.
The admission to the viewing levels of the Shard is expensive. As we forked over the money, we couldn’t help but thinking just for a moment: Are the Shard’s builders trying to raise funds to finish the top of the building?