The Shard: Going up in the world
If my old friend Adrian Wright ever decides to stop being leasing director at the Gloucester Quays outlet centre, he has a brilliant career in events planning ahead of him. Last summer I was with a fine group he took to the Henley Royal Regatta. This week I was lucky enough to be included in Adrian’s latest expedition – to The Shard at London Bridge. And what an amazing experience it was.
The Shard is the highest building in western Europe, soaring a breath-taking 1,1016ft (310m) into the sky on the south side of the Thames not far from Tower Bridge. From floors 68, 69 and 72, a 360◦ view of the capital is spread before you and quite humbling it is too. The top level has no roof and so here – at 800ft (244m) above street level – you can begin to imagine what it is like to be a bird. Only in the past 80 years or so could anyone stand so high on a man-made structure (the Empire State Building, which is 1,250ft (381m) high, was completed in 1931). Incredibly, there are about 35 buildings in the world taller than The Shard
Although Adrian failed to arrange good weather – get it together, man! – even the views through the mist were amazing. It is interesting to look north-west across the river to St Paul’s Cathedral, which would have looked huge when completed in 1710, and see it like a doll’s house accessory. Apparently, on a clear day, you can see 40 miles (64km) from The Shard. I can believe it.
So many thanks, Mr Wright, for the invitation and the hospitality.
It was good to catch up with pals such as Nigel Addison of the lingerie company Eveden…
…and property PR Sean Kelly, who fancied picking up the Airfix model-sized HMS Belfast far below.
Appropriately for this blog, there is a strong fashion connection to The Shard because it was conceived and developed by Irvine Sellar, who hired architect Renzo Piano to design it. Older readers will recall that before he turned to property development Irvine Sellar was a major player in high street fashion in the 1960s and 1970s, best known for his unisex chain called Mates. He has certainly gone up in the world since then.
PS: From the 72nd floor viewing platform, this amazing “vertical city” continues upwards for a further 216ft (66m).
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