Britain's tallest building to open to public

2013-01-11 21:21:56 GMT2013-01-12 05:21:56(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LONDON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The tallest building in Britain, the 310-meter Shard is to greet public visitors on February 1.

A new landmark in London, the 95-storey pyramidal skyscraper is also recognized as the tallest in the European Union.

"Shard will become a new tourism attraction in the city," said Anders Nyberg, CEO of the Shard Viewing Gallery Management (UK) Ltd. Entry charge is 24.95 pounds per person (40.17 U.S. dollars).

At the entrance of the building, there are pictures juxtaposing iconic sites in London and 140 famous Londoners. For example, Sebastian Coe, chairman of London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, stood on a bamboo raft in front of the Houses of Parliament.

While near the Gherkin, famous writers Charles Dickens rowed a boat with William Shakespeare. When the Queen Elizabeth rode with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, London mayor Boris Johnson was shining shoes for his political rival Ken Livingstone.

On another wall, people could find many quotes about London, from Virginia Woolf to Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde to Samuel Johnson.

Described by its architect Renzo Piano as a "shard of glass" during planning stages, the building featuring 11,000 panes of glass provides the highest public observation galleries in London on its 68th to 72th floor.

Visitors are encouraged to use 12 telescopes so as to enjoy the panorama of the city. They could not only zoom the pictures, but shift to sunrise or night modes for a different scenic view which was normally hard to see due to the city's gloomy weather.

Dusk is one of the best time in a day for the visit, as people could see "waterloo sunset" on sunny days, or a city in colorful lights when darkness falls.

Nyberg, who once worked as director at the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa in Dubai, revealed that people like to book tickets in dusks, and many have already showed their interest to visit the building on the Valentine's Day.

"There is a flower shop downstairs," he said. "It would be very romantic to have a boyfriend propose here."

Nyberg told Xinhua that Shard could receive 5,000 people a day, about 1 million a year. He expected 60 percent of the visitors from Britain, while the rest international tourists. "Asia is a huge market," he said.

About 95 percent of the material used in building Shard was recycled. It also provides space for a Shangri-La Hotel, restaurants and residential flats.

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