The £450m Shard building in London, UK, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, has been officially opened.
The 310m tower, situated on the south bank of the River Thames, features 586,000ft² of office space, a hotel, restaurants and residential apartments, and five storeys of public viewing space.
It has been developed by Sellar Property Group in collaboration with the State of Qatar as part of the £2bn London Bridge Quarter (LBQ) development, covering an area of 1.4 million ft².
The 72-storey building has a glass facade covering an area of 602,779ft²; the tower has 44 lifts, including double-decker lifts, and 306 flights of stairs.
During the planning stages, Renzo Piano worked with architectural firm Broadway Malyan for the project.
The ground floor of the tower will be a public area with seating and planting while the second floor will have retail space.
The fourth to 28th floors will have 595,000ft² of office space and winter gardens with the 31st to 33rd floors housing restaurants.
The 34th to 52nd floors will feature the Shangri-La Hotel and Spa while the 53rd to 65th floors will have ten residences offering 360-degree views across London.
The 68th to 72nd floors will be the public observation galleries while an open-air observation deck will be located on the 72nd floor, at a height of 245m above ground.
The Shard has been built to replace Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office building constructed on the site in 1976.
The inauguration of the tower marks the completion of the exterior of the building, while work on the interior is anticipated to continue until 2013.
The tower is expected to attract more than a million visitors a year.
Image: The Shard has been constructed to replace Southwark Towers and is expected to attract more than a million visitors a year. Photo: Sellar Group.