The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named The Shard, also known as London Bridge Tower and The Shard at London Bridge, as the best tall building in Europe in 2013.
The Shard is a skyscraper in London that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. It stands 1,004 feet tall with 73 floors above ground and three below. The building has 1.37 million square feet of interior space and includes office space, restaurants, apartments, and a hotel. It has a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck, The View from the Shard, on the 72nd floor at a height of 802 feet. The façade contains 11,000 panes of glass with 600,000 square feet of surface area. The skyscraper contains 44 elevators that can reach top speeds of 12.3 miles per hour.
The Shard currently holds the distinction of being the tallest building in the European Union. It is also the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.
The building was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and developed by Sellar Property. Piano designed it to resemble a spire rising from the River Thames, inspired by church steeples and the masts of ships. The architect also intended to take advantage of nearby transportation systems, including railway lines. It was intended to help develop London Bridge Quarter as an economic, social, and cultural center in the capital. Construction began in 2009, and the building was completed in 2012.