The Shard and formerly London Bridge Tower is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, that forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. The Shard is with 309,7 m the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the tallest building in the European Union, the fourth-tallest building in Europe and the 96th-tallest building in the world.
The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres. Renzo Piano designed the Shard as a spire-like sculpture emerging from the River Thames inspired by the railway lines next to the site, the London spires depicted by the 18th-century Venetian painter Canaletto, and the masts of sailing ships. Piano's design met criticism from English Heritage, who claimed the building would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London", giving the building its name, the Shard. Piano considered the slender, spire-like form of the tower a positive addition to the London skyline, recalling the church steeples featured in historic engravings of the city, and believed that its presence would be far more delicate than opponents of the project alleged. He proposed a sophisticated use of glazing, with expressive facades of angled glass panes intended to reflect sunlight and the sky above, so that the appearance of the building will change according to the weather and seasons. The building is designed to maintain its stability under very onerous conditions, with its post-tensioned concrete and composite floors, load-bearing pillars and tapering shape giving it a sway tolerance of 400 mm.