Damien Hirst and Kate Middleton Welcome Visitors To The Shard

The Shard, the latest London landmark, designed by the world famous architect Renzo Piano has a brand new visitor experience and viewing platform. It was previewed for the first time this week and ArtLyst got to explore the dizzying heights of Europe’s tallest building. The attraction’s official opening to the public has been announced for 1st February 2013. 

Visitors entering through the ground floor galleries to begin their exploration of the UK’s capital will pass 140 famous Londoners depicted in a collage mural, which includes the Artists, Tracey Emin ,Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are also pictured as Pearly King and Queen; London Mayor, Boris Johnson, shining the shoes of his rival, Ken Livingstone; and Kate Moss marrying King Henry VIII, amongst many others represented.

Around the gallery, animated maps and video screens illustrate the growth of London and reveal the context of the historic London Bridge location – the oldest crossing point over the Thames – around which the city has expanded. Through a series of short films, guests are given glimpses of London’s diverse communities and famous streets and places across the capital – all of which they will be able to see from the viewing galleries over 200m above them.  Interactive displays also bring The Shard to life, demonstrating how this unique building is connected to the city.

The View from The Shard is the only place where it is possible to see the entire city of London at once. New York has the Empire State Building , Paris The Eiffel Tower, now London joins the ranks, having a world class viewing platform. All major cities need a spectacular vantage point . The Shard has a 40 mile (64km), 360 degree views of the city, 800ft (244m) above ground, the attraction is set to become the first one-stop destination in London where visitors can experience the UK’s capital like never before.

The spectacular View is revealed  on Level 69 Guests arrive at the ‘cloudscape’ on level 68 and immediately head upwards to the triple-height, light-filled, main viewing gallery at Level 69 where breath-taking, 360 degree views for up to 40 miles (64km) over the capital are revealed. The city of London is brought to life on 12, free to use, ‘Tell:scopes’ – ultra high-tech digital telescopes that are being used in Europe for the first time.  The Tell:scopes which at some point must have been invented for military use enable guests to explore the city around them in real time, as well as offering alternative  day and night-time views.  Fully interactive, they are able to identify over 200 famous landmarks and places of significant interest and offer information about them in 10 languages.

For the most vertigo imposing experience, guests can go higher to the viewing gallery at Level 72 (800ft/244m).  Here, at the very highest public level of the building, partially open-air and exposed to the elements, guests are surrounded by the giant shards of glass that form the top of The Shard and can fully experience the sounds and atmosphere of the city below.

Renzo Piano, the Architect who created The Shard, has been personally involved in developing the content of the experience, working in collaboration with the attraction designers Event Communications. Renzo Piano, Architect, The Shard said:  “London is a city of inspiration and imagination. When we designed The Shard, a viewing gallery was part of our thinking right from the start. We wanted to create a public space where people could visit the building to experience London in a different way and also feel that they have discovered the spirit of the building. Level 72 is a wonderful example of this: in the open air on the highest habitable floor, you are surrounded by the shards of glass as well as the sights, sounds, elements and atmosphere of the city below. On top of the city, but also within it.”

Renzo Piano was born in September 1937 in Genoa, the ancient Italian port on the Mediterranean. He studied in Florence and in Milan, where he worked in the office of Franco Albini and experienced the first student rebellions of the 1960s. Born into a family of builders, frequent visits to his father Carlo’s building sites gave him the opportunity to combine practical and academic experience.
He graduated from the Politecnico University in Milan in 1964. From 1965 to 1970, he combined his first experimental work with his brother Ermanno together with numerous trips to Great Britain and the United States.

In 1971, he set up the Piano & Rogers office in London with Richard Rogers. Together they won the competition for the Centre Pompidou and he subsequently moved to Paris.
From the early 1970s to the 1990s, he worked with engineer Peter Rice, sharing the Atelier Piano & Rice from 1977 to 1981.

In 1981, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) was established, and it currently has a staff of 150 and offices in Paris, Genoa and New York.
RPBW has designed buildings all around the world: the Menil Collection in Houston, the terminal for Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the Fondation Beyeler Museum in Basel, the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia, Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, the redevelopment of the Genoa harbour, the Auditorium “Parco della Musica” in Rome, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, the extensions of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Morgan Library in New York, the Maison Hermès in Tokyo, the New York Times headquarters, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, the rehabilitation of the Ronchamp site, the expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Recognition of his achievements has included awards such as the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1989, the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo in 1995, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in1998, and the AIA Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 2008.

Some of his most important current projects include the redevelopment and enlargement of the Fogg Museum in Cambridge (Massachusetts), the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Campus of Columbia University in New York, an expansion of the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth, the London Bridge Tower in London, the Tower San Paolo in Turin, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens and the Botin Art Centre in Santander, Spain.

What ArtLyst thinks: This is the best view of London ever! The architecture is amazing and the timed tickets allow you to cut down on waiting time. We cant wait for the restaurants to open and to see what is available in the gift shop. Will

we be coming back? … You bet!

Tickets for the Shard viewing platform cost £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children.  The View will be open from 09.00am to 22.00pm daily to enable guests to experience the city by day or night.  [Booking details below].

Photos: © ArtLyst 2013


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