The developer of Britain’s tallest skyscraper has declared that the structure will be remembered for more than its height.
The Shard, which surpassed Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square to become the tallest building in Britain last month, is part of a £2bn redevelopment of the area around London Bridge Station.
Speaking from the 24th floor of the Shard in central London, which will eventually become the tallest building in western Europe, Sellar Group chairman Irvine Sellar said: “It’s not all about height. It’s not an ego thing. We’re not the tallest building in the world by a long way, but we are the best-looking in Europe.”
When completed, the tower will have 44 lifts and will be topped by a four-floor viewing gallery that will be open to the public.
A new public concourse and a piazza will be finished in 2013 and will link the 310m building to the station, through which 400,000 commuters will pass every day.
Sellar said when architect Renzo Piano first visited the area, he described it as “a Kingdom of Darkness”.
He also revealed that the Italian architect, who helped designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris but had never designed a building in Britain, had initially been reluctant to work on a skyscraper.
At a meeting in Berlin in 2000, Piano told him: “I don’t like tall buildings, they’re fortresses, they’re imperious, they’re symbols, they’re arrogant.”
Sellar added: “Well I thought: ‘Thanks, Renzo. It’s been nice meeting you.’”
But as they discussed the project further, Piano became animated and began sketching a rough design on the back of a menu.
Ten years later, the building has now reached 72 storeys of its final 87.