China's tallest building breaks ground

By Richard High05 December 2008

Construction of the 632 m-high Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower has started this month with a groundb

Construction of the 632 m-high Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower has started this month with a groundbreaking ceremony. Located in the Luijiazui Finance and Trade Zone, an area of Shanghai that was farm

Construction of the 632 m-high Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower has started this month with a ground breaking ceremony.

Located in the Luijiazui Finance and Trade Zone, an area of Shanghai that was farmland 18 years ago and is poised to become China's first super-tall district, the Shanghai Tower will complete a trio of towers that includes the Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center (WFC).

Together these three will form a "New icon on Shanghai's skyline," according to developer Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. While the design of the Jin Mao Tower pays homage to China's past, and the WFC's design signifies China's recent economic growth, Shanghai Tower's design is a "beacon of China's future", said the company.

In a statement Gensler's chairman, Art Gensler, said the tower "Advances sustainable design strategies and gives prominence to public spaces."

"We hope Shanghai Tower inspires new ideas about what sustainable tall buildings can be. We've lined the perimeter of the tower, top to bottom, with public spaces, and we've integrated strategic environmental thinking into every move. The tower is a stage that comes to life through the presence of people," said Mr Gensler.

Structural engineer for the project is Thornton Tomasetti. Consulting engineering Cosentini Associates is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineer and the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University is the Local Design Institute. Completion is scheduled for 2014.

The Shanghai Tower will include Class-A office and retail space, a luxury hotel and cultural venues. The top floors will feature the world's highest non-enclosed observation deck, while the podium building will offer high-end retail outlets and an events venue. Below-grade facilities include retail outlets and connections to the Shanghai Metro and three floors of parking.

Sustainable Strategies

The developer has set a goal of making the Shanghai Tower "one of the most sustainable tall buildings in the world." To achieve this, said Mr Gensler, the architect has worked closely with Thornton Tomasetti and Cosentini to adopt a "fully integrated design approach" that ensures all design decisions "uphold a sustainable intent."

"The façade's taper, texture and asymmetry work in partnership to reduce wind loads on the building by -20%, offering considerable savings overall in both building materials and construction costs. In addition, the building's spiraling parapet collects rainwater, which is used for the tower's heating and air conditioning systems.

"Wind turbines located directly beneath the parapet generate on-site power. The landscaped atria improve indoor air quality, minimize heat ‘stack effect' and create comfortable places for people to linger. Shanghai Tower's owners aim to register for a high level of building certification from the China Green Building Council and the US Green Building Council," said Gensler.

Tower Composition

Shanghai Tower is organised as nine cylindrical buildings stacked one on top of another. The inner layer of the double-skin façade encloses the stacked buildings, while a triangular exterior layer creates the second skin, or building envelope, which gently rotates as it rises.

The spaces between the two façade layers create nine "atrium sky gardens". Much like plazas and civic squares in traditional cities, the sky atria will offer places within the tower for interaction and community with restaurants, cafés, coffee shops and convenience stores, as well as "lush landscaping."

With sky gardens lining the tower's perimeter, Shanghai Tower is "literally wrapped in public spaces." Both interior and exterior skins are transparent.

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