London Skyscraper Takes Title of Tallest Building in Europe

The 1,016-foot skyscraper is the tallest building in Europe, for now.

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REUTERS/Olivia Harris

A laser and searchlight show marks the completion of the exterior of the Shard building in central London July 5, 2012. The 1,016-foot building is the tallest in western Europe.

London’s skyline got a new look last week when the tallest building in Europe was officially unveiled and feted with a laser light show. The skyscraper, known as The Shard, is a 1,016-foot pyramid that towers the mostly low-lying city — a fact that has displeased many of its neighbors.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, The Shard is London’s tallest building by far, looming roughly 246 feet higher than One Canada Square — now formerly the tallest tower in London. While The Shard also holds the title of tallest building in Europe, its reign will be short-lived. The Mercury City Tower in Moscow is expected to be completed later this year. If all goes as planned, the Mercury City Tower will measure 1,089 ft, beating the Shard by 73 feet.

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At the unveiling ceremony, Prince Andrew said the building was a “huge new boost,” according to the BBC, adding, “I’m sure that we would all be extremely glad if this could be repeated in a number of other areas across the U.K.” Prince Andrew was joined at the celebration by the Qatari prime minister, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani. The Shard was funded — and is partly owned — by the country of Qatar National Bank, a fact that also irked the neighbors. “We have this massive pyramid slapped down here as a monument to the munificence of the Emirate of Qatar,” said Russell Gray, a spokesman for a neighborhood group, who was also unhappy about the $40 per person entrance fee for the building’s viewing platform. The city’s politicians saw it differently, though. “It brought 10,000 jobs to one of the most run down and deprived areas of London but unlike a lot of the other tall buildings, Londoners will have access to this one,” Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone told the BBC. The skyscraper, he added, “will define London and it’s our equivalent to the Empire State building.”

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