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The Shard: The Vision of Irvine Sellar

Howard Watson

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Biography: business & industry, Prose: non-fiction

The story behind London's tallest building and the man who created the Shard, Irvine Sellar.

'We were told we would never get planning consent and we did. We were told we would never be able to fund it and we did. Then we were told we would never be able to build it and we did.' Irvine Sellar

In 2000, Irvine Sellar, a former market trader famous for helping to create the look of the Swinging Sixties on Carnaby Street, stood on a rooftop in Southwark, London, and decided to build the tallest building in western Europe. He had virtually no experience, and he wanted to build at the wrong height, in the wrong place, on the wrong side of the river and at the wrong time.

Twelve years later, the Shard, a 'vertical city' designed by one of the world's leading architects, Renzo Piano, changed the skyline of London. It immediately became one of the most instantly recognizable and admired contemporary buildings in the world.

This is the story of one man's vision for London and his determination to redefine an ancient but maligned part of the city despite seemingly insurmountable challenges including mass opposition, a huge planning inquiry, the financial crash, and major construction issues that required radical improvisation at every turn. At every twist in the tale, Sellar refused to give up.

The Shard is a tale of extreme ambition, innovation and a relentless desire to recast the skyscraper as a force for good.

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