Irvine Sellar, Creator of London’s Shard Tower, Dies at 82

Irvine Sellar, who created and developed the Shard skyscraper in London, died on Sunday after a short illness. He was 82.

A career that included a stint as a Carnaby Street retailer in “swinging London” in the 1960s reached its pinnacle with the completion of western Europe’s tallest tower in July 2012. The 310-meter (1,017-foot) Shard designed by architect Renzo Piano has since become a landmark of the Southwark district on the south bank of the River Thames.

Irvine Sellar

Photographer: Paul Thomas/Bloomberg

Sellar formed a partnership with the state of Qatar to finance the Shard and the adjacent London Bridge Quarter. Construction of a third building, Shard Place, is under way, according to a statement on Monday. Irvine’s son, James, will take over the running of the Sellar Group.

Sellar switched from retail to real estate in the early 1980s because “property and retail go hand-in-glove,” he said in a 2010 Bloomberg interview. His company, Ford Sellar Morris, developed department stores and other commercial buildings for several years until a recession at the start of the next decade led to its collapse in 1991. Sellar lost 28 million pounds ($35 million).

Undeterred, he set up Sellar Property Group a year later and completed projects including the Pompey Centre, a retail park in the southern English city of Portsmouth.

“You can throw me in the desert and I’ll find a way of making a living,” he said in the interview. “We all have an element of ego. It’s just nice to leave a legacy and say, well that’s an achievement.”

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