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2012 saw the rise of the European Union’s tallest building, The Shard, but how did it all start?

Renzo Piano, the architect apparently sketched his idea on a restaurant napkin while meeting property developer Irvine Sellar back in March 2000. According to Piano’s Architectural firm, RPBW, Sellar still keeps the famous napkin in his offices. “He saw the beauty of the river and the railways and the way their energy blended and began to sketch in green felt pen on a napkin what he saw as a giant sail or iceberg,” Sellar recalled in a recent interview. Piano, for his part, has sometimes sounded squeamish about the legend that has built up around his off-the-cuff sketch. “I don’t want to create a mythology,” he has said.

The Shard now stands proudly 1,016 feet above some of the most famous sites of London and is due to open to the public in February 2013.

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