Europe’s tallest building will be officially unveiled in central London tonight, as the Shard is illuminated by a “spectacular” laser show for a grand public inauguration.
The Shard, which stands more than 1,000ft high, will be lit up by a selection of 12 lasers and 30 search lights beaming across the skyline.
Situation on the River Thames at Southwark, the building will be fully illuminated in the show, which will be accompanied by classical music.
The Shard’s unusual tapered design and glass panelling have already made it one of London’s most recognisable landmarks.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the building was so named after he described it colloquially as “a shard of glass” in the planning stages.
• The Shard is is 1016ft (309.6m) high, the tallest building in Europe.
• The building reached its top height on June 19.
• It has 11,000 glass panels.
• The area of the glass fagade is 602,779 ft squared (56,000m squared), which equals eight football pitches.
• There are 44 lifts, including double-decker lifts.
• There are 306 flights of stairs.
• The total floor space is 31.4 acres.
• 95% of the construction materials are recycled.
• It is the 59th tallest building in the world, around 2.7 times shorter than the tallest, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is 2,717ft high.
It 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.
The 1,016ft skyscraper is joint-owned by the state of Qatar and the Sellar Property Group, and it was funded by the Qatar National Bank.
The building will inaugurated by the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, and The Duke of York, with the laser show scheduled to begin 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.”
he 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.
Michael Lockett, in charge of the unveiling, told The Daily Telegraph: “The forecast isn’t great. At the moment it looks as though the cloud base won’t be too low, though, so people will still be able to see the top when it is lit up.
“In a way the laser effects we’ve got planned will work even more dramatically If there’s a bit of mist.”