Like many other of the world's tallest buildings, Renzo Piano's Shard may herald a recession

Like many other of the world's tallest buildings, Renzo Piano's Shard may herald a recession

Scheduled to open in June and bankrolled by Qatari wealth, Renzo Piano's Shard will be the tallest building in Europe. The 301-metre-high (1,017ft) building includes 27 floors of offices, three floors of restaurants, an 18-floor five-star Shangri-La hotel with a spa, and 10 palatial apartments, two of which span the entire floor – these are expected to become London homes for members of the Qatari royal family. A four-story public viewing area is being built starting on the 68th floor and the developer is considering renting out the very highest room on the 78th floor for high-powered conferences and political talks – summits at the summit.

The building has been a source of pride and symbol of confidence for Londoners, but they may think again in light of a new report that says rather than being a sign of growing prosperity, high rises, especially those spearheaded by the next 'world's tallest building', herald a recession. Barcalys Capital has examined the cases of 18 'world's tallest buildings' in the past 150 years and links them to recessions. The Empire State Building was completed in New York in 1931 as the Great Depression got underway, while the world's current tallest building – the 2,717ft, 163 story Burj Khalifa skyscraper was built in Dubai in 2010 as the emirate came close to economic meltdown.

As Andrew Lawrence, the author of the report explains, the pattern is typically the same. Buoyed by an economic boom and the availability of cheap credit, property developers are emboldened to take on increasingly ambitious skyscrapers. By the time they are finished a few years later, the world is generally a very different place – the economic bubble has is bursting, reality has hit, the banks are nursing their losses on their loans and credit is much harder to come by. But by then, the building is built, providing a potent symbol of the excesses of recent years.
Image: Renzo Piano's Shard by London Bridge