LONDON — Built at a cost of $2.35 billion in tough economic times, Europe’s new tallest skyscraper has become a lightning rod for criticism even before it officially opens Thursday.
Rising more than 1,000 feet above London’s skyline with floor space equivalent to 31.4 acres — or close to 15 football fields — the Shard is Europe’s boldest and most extravagant building. It was funded by Qatar’s royal family, who boast pockets as deep as the tower is high.
But it’s more than just sheer size that gives the tower its swagger. The building’s design is already iconic. It’s crafted from 11,000 glass panels, which resemble shards of glass (hence, its name). They incline inwards as they rise to the top culminating in a sharp-angled jagged spire. The shards never touch and there are fissures along the way, which allow the entire structure to “breathe.”
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