Anders Nyberg, CEO, The View from The Shard on why you should pay to get your head in the clouds
On February 1st you can climb up the 1,016 ft Shard (in a lift of course) to the View from The Shard, an observation deck spread out on the top four floors of London’s tallest skyscraper.
From the 72nd floor of The Shard, you’d feel like you’re on top of the capital and everything from the Tower of London to the Big Ben would look teeny-weeny.
The man behind The View from the Shard is Anders Nyberg, the former director of the Burj Al Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.
But why is the view worth £24.95 a pop? We ask Nyberg for some answers:
Firstly, what is it like being on the 72nd floor of The Shard?
Oh it’s remarkable, I consider it the best view in the world. One of the aspects of many of these observation decks in major cities is that there are large buildings around them so you kind of see just rooftops. Uniquely in London, you don’t have that. From the top of the Shard, you’re looking at the vista of the whole city with the Thames snaking through, the railway tracks going out and you’re looking at different levels of history and architecture. It’s just a remarkable, unchallenged view.
You’ve worked on the Burj al Khalifa, how is Shard’s view compared to it?
Frankly, there is so much more to look at in London than Dubai. In Dubai, you’ve got the gulf on one side and the desert on the other side. You have only directions to see much of anything. It’s a much more impressive view in London. Although the Shard is not as high, the view is much better than Dubai.
How did the idea of the View from The Shard come up?
Part of the planning process involved public access which most skyscrapers in London do not have. So, the idea of establishing an observation deck came up. My involvement started a year and a half ago, I was brought in to get designers, come up with a concept and put a team in place and get it open. I managed to find the best and the brightest from other London attractions to come in as head of marketing,head of operation and head of finance to make it all happen.
But isn’t £24.95 for a ticket very steep?
Basically, £24.95 is very comparable to other attractions. We’re offering as much of a queue-free operation as it can get. Immediate access or a fast pass for London Eye or Madame Tussuads costs well over £25. Everything we sell has a date and time. You arrive half hour before the time designated on your ticket and you can stay as long as you like. No exit time, you need to get out only when we close the attraction at night.
But the other tourist attractions are cheaper and have more history attached?
Agreed, But it’s great value for money as you don’t have stand in line. For other tourist attractions, to get the lower price you sometimes have to wait in a two to three hour queue.
Source: The View from The Shard
So, what’s the capacity?
We plan to be open at 9 in the morning and close at 10 at night and we can do about 4,500 people, that’s well below our capacity but we want to keep it a comfortable experience.
We’re expecting a million visitors in the first year.
How much revenue are you expecting from the experience?
It’s driven by attendance. A million visitors with £24.95 a ticket for adults and £18.95 for children, after VAT we’re looking at £15 to £20 million annually. The expenses are high too, we’ve got a large staff, costs of maintenance. So, it’s profitable but not what the gross revenue portrays.
The Shard v other London landmarks
BT Tower – 620 ft – not open to general public
The Gherkin – 590 ft – not open to general public
London Eye – 443 ft – Tickets start at £17.01
St Paul’s Cathedral – 365 ft – Tickets start at £15
Big Ben – 316 ft – no admission
People already have a London Eye, why would they come up top of the Shard?
They are two very different experiences, you can stay as long as you like or as little as you like. You aren’t captured in a capsule. We’re not a Ferris Wheel, so it’s a different experience. Jokes apart, I think there is room for both.
Also, it’s lost the tallest building in Europe title to the Mercury City in Moscow even before it opened, what do you think about that?
I think the Shard is unique and London is unique. So competing with Moscow is not a concern.
So what can visitors expect when they come to the Shard?
So, you enter the attraction on Joiner Street on level 0. You come up the stairs and find a huge video projection showcasing the inspiration behind the building. Church Steeples, ships sailing in the Thames and all of the things that inspired the architect Renzo Piano to come up with the design. We also commissioned the London Symphony Orchestra to compose a musical score that would be playing throughout the attraction.
You get to the ticket desk and get your photo clicked which immediately comes up as a photo much like the group shot of the Beatles’ album Sgt Peppers.
You then go to the 33rd floor where you change lifts. On the 33rd floor there is a map of London with the Thames running through it and you follow it to the next set of lifts which take you up to level 68. Believe me, even in the lifts you’re immersed in London.
You get off in level 68 and you’re basically in the clouds. And you move around and you go to level 69 where you have ‘Telscopes’ which are large LCD screens with a video lens attached. You can use these like a telescope so that many people can enjoy the view instead of one pair of eyes. You can zoom in and zoom out the various icons in the city. For instance, if you land on St Paul’s, an icon pops up which says St Paul’s and you can click on it and it gives you 50-60 words describing it. There will be 200 of these landmarks that you can look through in 10 different languages.
Then you leave 69 and go up to level 72. Level 72 is partially open-air, the glass of the building doesn’t come together in the corners. So, starting at 72 so you get the wind, rain. – that’s my favourite part of the experience. It’s amazing, you’ll see.
Wow! Sounds great. So what’s your favourite view from the Shard?
All of them, how can I pick? You’ve got Big Ben, out in the distance you can see the Wembley
Arch. Around from St Paul’s, the city, out to the Olympic Park then to Canary Wharf and out to the Thames Estuary. It’s fabulous!
Then to the south, it looks like a completely different city. You’ve got so much green space it’s wonderful. The north, east and west you’ve got the Thames snaking. You can’t comprehend how much that river changes direction!