The Shard rises above The London Eye Ferris wheel seen from Hyde Park on July 5, 2012 in London, England.(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) - The Shard, a $700 million office tower built by Qatar, officially opened Thursday in London as the tallest building in Europe.
A spectacular laser show is scheduled for the unveiling tonight, although event organizers worry that low clouds might obstruct the view.
The sleek, 1,016-foot structure was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, who gave the building its name when he referred to it during the planning stages as a "shard of glass," The Telegraph notes.
Others have dubbed it "The Cheese Grater."
It boasts 44 elevators, 206 flights of stairs and 600,000 square feet of office space, but so far no signed tenants, The Independent reports.
The recession is one factor, but also its location along the Thames River on the "wrong" side -- at least for now -- of the London Bridge.
While an impressive addition to the London skyline, The Shard ranks as only the 59th tallest building the world, 2.7 times shorter than the tallest, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, The Telegraph says.
The Shard will also have to surrender the title of tallest building in Europe soon with the completion later this year of the 1,089-foot Mercury City Tower in the Moscow International Business Center, The Independent reports.