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The Shard

Anyone who's seen it, it'Il immediately be apparent because it looks like a shard of glass or a shard of ice. Very sharp reaching up into the sky.

Jul 06,2015

Richard: For this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast, we're right in the centre of London and talking about the Shard.


Jackie: Richard, can you explain what the Shard is?


Richard: Yes. Well, from July 2012, it is the tallest building in Europe standing at 309.6 metres.

Jackie: It's a strange name, the Shard, where does that come from?

Richard: Well, anyone who's seen it, it'Il immediately be apparent because it looks like a shard of glass or a shard of ice. Very sharp reaching up into the sky.


Jackie: And that's because there's 11,000 panels I think, 11,000 glass panels covering the whole thing. So, an amazing building, Richard.


Richard: Yes, and interesting that it's being built now, in these times of financial problems and financial austerity.


Jackie: Yes, and it hasn't had an easy ride, has it, as a result of the... of the difficulties in the global markets?


Richard: No, I think the project started um... in September 2006. The first thing they had to do, they had to demolish a building which was... there was nothing wrong with it.


Jackie: Yes. The site was occupied by a twenty-four storey office block actually built not that long ago in 1975, that had to come down, didn't it? Um... that in itself was a major project because it's right next door to a hospital and an underground station. That came down, floor by floor and took over a year. And while that was being demolished, one of the developers pulled out of the project and it looked like it might not be going ahead.


Richard: Yes, the whole project was saved by a consortium of Qatari investors.

Jackie: Yes, Qatar: small country but big money, Richard.

Richard: Yes. But their investment actually comes with certain conditions because it's Sharia-compliant.

Jackie: Can you... can you give an example?


Richard: Well, one of those things means that um... when they lease the building to corporates they cannot be connected either to the gambling industry or alcohol.


Jackie: Oh well, that's interesting but of course it isn't... it isn't just offices though Richard, there are 87 floors altogether and um... along with the office space, there's also going to be a 200-bed five- star hotel...


Richard: The Shangri-La Hotel, with a spa.


Jackie: ...ten apartments. And do you know these are priced at approximately 50 million pounds each and um... towards the top a public viewing platform.


Richard: There are, I think there are, two or three floors of restaurants and in fact the spire right at the very top is open to the air and I think that's another 15 floors in itself.


Jackie: Mmm, I'm... I'm not sure if I'm going to be going up to the top. So an amazing building, Richard, er... completed despite the financial situation but it's empty, isn't it?


Richard: Yes. They've had to overcome a lot of problems: demolishing the original office block, building the thing itself which is amazing, but perhaps the biggest challenge of all is yet to come, in the present financial climate, actually finding tenants for the office space.


Jackie: Yes, the project, they say, is meant to be worth up to two and a half billion pounds, but only when that's fully leased.


Richard: We shall see.