Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


On the horizon: Shard London Bridge, London

Before Piano's ambitious Shard of glass skyscraper can finally begin construction on the south bank of the Thames at the end of 2007, some tricky demolition work is required to rid the space of the current occupant, the eyesore known as Southwark Towers. In its place, at 1,004 feet high, the elegant, needlelike Shard will be the tallest building in Britain and will likely be the most influential of the new skyscrapers appearing on the city's skyline due to its size and unusual shape. Piano has proposed a vertical city of offices, shops, residences, and a hotel (run by the Shangri-La group in its first European foray). Unlike many of London's new, off-public-limits skyscrapers, Piano plans to engage locals through the Shard's endless amenities located over six floors of mid-level public space, subterranean transport hub, and 24/7 access. We'll need to wait until 2011 to experience it, though.

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