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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

The Shard to open to public soon

18th December 2012

The recently completed Shard building in central London will be opening its four viewing decks to the public in February.

Measuring some 1,016 feet, the building is hard to miss and is set to provide visitors staying in central London hotels some amazing views.

A high-speed lift takes visitors to the viewing platform in around 30 seconds and they are rewarded with the ability to see for around 40 miles on a clear day. There are also special touchscreens that allow people to see real-time views of the capital as well as providing information on all the famous landmarks that can be seen from the building.

Tickets booked in advance for entry to the special decks cost from £24.95 per adult and £18.95 per child and available from The Shard's website.

The structure is the tallest in the European Union and is owned by the state of Qatar and the Sellar Property Group. The money for its construction was provided by the Qatar National Bank and it was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano.

He believes that the Shard will develop into one of London's top attractions and be enjoyed by local residents and visitors.

"For me, the most important thing is, is it going to be loved in London or not? Skyscrapers have to give back to the city more than they get from the city," explained Mr Piano to BBC News.

"I see it as like a giant sail emerging from the river, and so the shape of the Shard was conceived."

The Shard is a short walk from London Bridge London Underground station and opens to the public on February 1st.

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