The Shard, also referred to as the Shard of Glass, Shard London Bridge and formerly London Bridge Tower,] is a 95-storey skyscraper in London. Its construction began in March 2009; it was topped out on 30 March 2012 and inaugurated on 5 July 2012. It will open to the public in February 2013] Standing 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union, the second-tallest in Europe, and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, after the 330-metre (1,083 ft) concrete tower at the Emley Moor transmitting station.
The Shard replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in Southwark in 1975. Renzo Piano, the Shard's architect, worked with the architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage. The tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck – the UK's highest – on the 72nd floor, at a height of 245 metres (804 ft). The Shard was designed with an irregular pyramidal shape from the base to the top, and is clad entirely in glass.