Thursday, July 5, 2012

A New “Stately Mansion” for the Rich and Mighty

As Al Jazeera English reported this morning, today marks the opening of the Shard tower. For those who either live under a rock or refuse to believe that anything newsworthy happens beyond the boundaries of the United State, this is an 87-story elongated glass pyramid, designed by Renzo Piano, which is now the tallest building in the European Union (EU). Lest one wonder how such a monument to economic excess could be built when most of the EU, not to mention a good chunk of the rest of the world (including the United States), is trying to keep its economic head above water, it is important to note that this entire project was financed by the Qatari royal family. In other words, for practical purposes, this may turn out to be the most expensive pied-à-terre in the world.

That last assertion is not a mere matter of hyperbole for the sake of frivolity. According to the Al Jazeera English report, the building currently has only one tenant. There is a 195-room Shangri-La hotel on floors 34 through 52. 26 of the remaining floors have been allocated for office space, none of which have been filled. Nevertheless, this may not be a simple case of the rich and mighty not “getting the message,” as I put it in one of my economic flames last year. The fact is that Qatar has done an excellent job of keeping a low profile in the face of both the Arab Spring and Occupy movements. Now the rich and mighty of Qatar have a place to camp out in London where they will be “above it all” literally, as well as figuratively!

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