Holding up The Shard

May 15, 2013

The Shard –Western Europe’s tallest building – is now open to the public and being fitted out for its new occupiers. While attention is understandably focused on the view from the top, we at Byrne Looby are proud of our unseen work below the ground at London’s remarkable new landmark.

Byrne Looby was commissioned by piling subcontractor Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering to design significant elements of the substructure for The Shard. Designing foundations for “Europe’s first 1000ft building” made for a very interesting project. The Shard was built on a tight urban plot, immediately adjacent to London Bridge railway station with a warren of London Underground tunnels nearby. The substructure included a 900mm diameter hard-firm secant pile wall to facilitate the deep basement excavation. The foundations and plunge columns were significant with some over 55m deep and carrying up to 24MN service load. We prepared the geotechnical and structural design of these elements, and analysed the complex top-down construction sequence for the basement.

The surrounding Network Rail infrastructure had to be carefully considered during the project. The effect of excavation on the Victorian station structure was carefully analysed by us using specialist finite element software. We used this analysis to assess the likely ground movements resulting from the excavation and secured Network Rail’s approval for the design.

Today the Shard stands as one of the world’s most iconic structures and a engineering achievement. For us, it demonstrates Byrne Looby’s ability to deliver on a demanding brief with skill and technical know-how.