The Shard of Glass

Offices, leisure (hotel/retail)
Lifting strategy development, cranes, operation and management

Full Project Details

Our role: To provide a full crane strategy enabling the construction of the Shard of Glass building in Central London - an iconic structure and currently the highest building in Europe.

Working closely with the building’s architects, the client and delivery partner Mace, we were able to devise an innovative crane and lifting strategy, that took our cranes and the building into the record books.

The Shard of Glass is a 72-storey skyscraper in London. Construction began in March 2009 - it was topped out on 30 March 2012 and inaugurated on 5 July 2012. It sits adjacent to London Bridge station in Central London, on the edge of the City’s financial district.  The compact footprint of the project demanded an evolving crane strategy that enabled lifting activities to keep pace with rapid construction, right up to a maximum elevation of 308m.

The challenge

To provide continuous lifting operations for the project, matching its fast construction programme, while operating at heights far in excess of any others in the UK for a generation.

Our approach

Through detailed planning with the contractor and architect, we created a plan that would see the main tower crane rising on the same slipform assembly as the main building core grew, ensuring that it kept pace with the delivery programme. Once reaching level 55, the central core crane was used to build a second crane, cantilevered off the side of the building, which remained in place until completion, being ‘jumped’ as necessary to ensure height gain matched building progress.

The engineering behind our delivery

Through careful and detailed planning, the lifting plan was a pivotal part of the delivery of this iconic building.  Our highly experience operatives worked alongside the construction team every step of the way, to ensure that each lift was appropriately planned and executed. The cranes grew with the building, initially through attaching the central core crane to the slipform platform. Later, the cantilevered crane, firstly dismantled the central core unit, and then facilitated the final push and delivery of the 66m steel spire. Removal of the cantilevered crane was an additional. With the help of a small derrick crane and finally a small ‘spider’ crane, it was dismantled with the final elements being returned to ground level via the building’s goods lifts.

  • Select crane strategy key to building construction feasibility
  • Speed of delivery
  • Safety critical operations at height in restricted area