1. ITV Report

Laser spectacular as Shard opens

The building will inaugurated by the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, and The Duke of York. Photo:

Europe's tallest building will be officially unveiled in central London today.

The Shard's tapered design and glass panelling have already made the skyscraper one of the capital's most iconic landmarks.

Just yards from the banks of the River Thames in Southwark, it seems to pierce the sky as it shoots more than 1,000ft into the air.

The tower, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, will contain offices, exclusive residences, a luxury hotel, restaurants and a viewing gallery across 72 occupiable floors.

There are a further 15 levels which make up the "spire" - six of which have the potential to be used, with another nine exposed to the elements.

The 1,016ft (309.6m) skyscraper is joint-owned by the state of Qatar and the Sellar Property Group, and it was funded by the Qatar National Bank.

It was originally only nicknamed The Shard after Mr Piano described the building as a "shard of glass" in the planning stages, but the name stuck.

The building will inaugurated by the prime minister of Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, and The Duke of York.

Londoners will be treated to a spectacular laser show to be projected from The Shard shortly after 10pm.

The event marks the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013.

Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank, said: "The Shard is the newest London landmark and a beacon of the city of London's resilience and expansion, even during tough economic times.

"It is a symbol of Qatar's belief and commitment to London both today and in the future.

"We have a long heritage and continued commitment to invest and build in the UK for the long term and The Shard highlights this close relationship."

The skyscraper is part of a 2m sq ft development in Southwark called London Bridge Quarter.

The Shard and its sister development The Place are linked with London Bridge Station through a new central plaza, public realm, bus station and train station concourse.

The Shard's tenure at the top of the European height chart is likely to be short-lived, as the 1,089ft Mercury City Tower in Russia is set to be completed by the end of the year.