Threading the skies over London like a great glass needle, the Shard is one of the city’s newest and most striking skyscrapers. Completed in 2013, it has 95 floors and stands at 1,106 feet, making it also the tallest structure in the city and the whole of the United Kingdom. In the short time that it has been a part of London, the Shard has made more of an impression than simply being a tall building. All those floors contain some pretty interesting information. If you read on, you’ll discover some of the Shard’s secrets. Some people hate it, some people love it. It’s not going anywhere.
A Very Green Building
The builders of the Shard were quite environmentally conscious and 95% of the building materials are recycled. It was designed to have a small carbon footprint and be energy efficient, with its own combined heat and power plant (CHP) to meet the building’s needs. The essentially means that the Shard has its own small-scale power plant to reduce power transmission losses. The fact that most of the exterior is specially-made glass also helps to reduce the sun’s heat within the building and keep it cool without relying too much on air conditioning.
All that Glass
Speaking of glass, the Shard is covered in 11,000 panels of it.
Expensive Hotel Room
The Shangri-La is a chain of luxury hotels and its London location operates on floors 34-52 of the Shard. The most exclusive room in the hotel is the Shangri-La suite, which costs about £14,000 per night. In addition to the stunning 180-degree view that it offers, the room also has about 617 square feet of space, a Nespresso machine, steam shower, jacuzzi bath, 1,000 thread count sheets, and a twenty-four hour butler.
Fastest Lifts in Europe
The Shard’s lifts move at nearly 20 feet per second.
Top of the Fox
Urban foxes have long been a problem in London and the Shard had its own very special encounter with one. The story goes that, as the Shard was under construction, staff found a fox on the 72nd floor. They figured he must have gotten up there via the stairwell and survived by living off the worker’s scraps. Nicknamed Romeo, it took pest controllers from Southwark Council two weeks to capture him. Council staff then released him on the streets of Bermondsey. Romeo has since become something of a mascot for the Shard and miniature plush versions of him are available for sale at the tower, with the proceeds going to a local charity.
Cleanliness is Hard Work
The Shard employs a team of six window cleaners who take one week to clean a side of the Shard. As there are four sides, it takes them roughly a month to finish, then they start all over again.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
The observation decks of the Shard can be found on floors 68, 69, and 72. Tickets are needed (and they’re expensive), so it’s a good idea to book in advance, but once you get there, there is no shortage of interesting features on these three levels. Floor 68 features an exhibit called Cloudscape, which teaches you all about the types of clouds you will see from the observation decks. Floor 69 is where the interactive telescopes are located. Lastly, for the truly daring, Floor 72 is open to the elements. The View from the Shard also hosts regular events and private tours are available for hire.
The Shard can be seen from 40 miles in any direction.
See You Next Fall
Being the tallest building in Europe, the Shard is quite a tempting object for base jumpers, individuals who enjoy leaping from tall heights and then pulling the chord on a parachute to glide back to the street. Approximately twelve attempts were made between 2009 and 2012 while the building was under construction, with four of them by Essex roofer Dan Witchalls. The highest of these jumps was from 850 feet. The most recent jump was made in March 2016 by a man who has yet to be identified.
Barred from the Shard
Base jumpers aren’t the only ones looking to gain access to the Shard for less than permitted reasons. In 2013, a group of six protestors from Greenpeace took sixteen hours to climb the building and unfurl a flag at its summit that said “Save the Arctic”. The year before, security guards spotted French urban climber Alain Robert trying to enter the building. The owners then got a permanent injunction to prevent Mr. Robert from entering or climbing the building.