The Shanghai Tower was designed by the American architectural firm Gensler, with Chinese architect Jun Xia leading the design team. The tower takes the form of nine cylindrical buildings stacked atop each other, totalling 121 floors, all enclosed by the inner layer of the glass façade. Between that and the outer layer, which twists as it rises, nine indoor zones provide public space for visitors. Each of these nine areas has its own atrium, featuring gardens, cafés, restaurants and retail space, and providing 360-degree views of the city.
“The tower’s exterior – a twisting triangular surface that tapers as it rises – is wrapped around a concrete core composed of nine stacked cylinders. An efficient design of super columns with outrigger trusses derives stiffness from the concrete inner building, forming an effective system for resisting wind and seismic loads.” – Thornton Tomasetti
Gensler, a leading global architectural design ﬁrm, advances sustainable design strategies and gives prominence to public spaces. The Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd., is the project’s developer. Thornton Tomasetti structural engineers, Cosentini Associates mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers and the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University as the Local Design Institute will support Gensler. The development is slated for completion in 2014.
Sited adjacent the neighboring Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center in the heart of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, the 632-meter Shanghai Tower ranks as China’s tallest building. As the skyline’s most prominent icon, the tower’s transparent, spiral form showcases cutting-edge sustainable strategies and public spaces that set new standards for green community. Within 127 stories, Shanghai Tower houses Class A office space, entertainment venues, retail, a conference center, a luxury hotel and cultural amenity spaces. The tower has been awarded a China Green Building Three Star rating and a LEED® Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This tower is symbolic of a nation whose future is ﬁlled with limitless opportunities,” said Qingwei Kong, President of Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd. “With Shanghai Tower we celebrate not only China’s economic success and increasing connection to the global community, but also our company’s commitment to developing properties that demonstrate the highest, noblest and most exquisite design achievements possible.”
Shanghai Tower will house Class-A oﬃce space, retail, a luxury hotel and cultural venues. The uppermost ﬂoors will feature the world’s highest non-enclosed observation deck. The tower’s podium building will oﬀ er a high-end retail environment with a major event space. Below-grade facilities include retail, connections to the Shanghai Metro and three ﬂoors of parking.
“We hope Shanghai Tower inspires new ideas about what sustainable tall buildings can be,” said Art Gensler, FAIA, Chairman of Gensler. “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.”
“As the tallest building in China Shanghai Tower, designed by Gensler, has had an immediate and profound impact on the country’s perceptions of how a skyscraper can contribute to a city, a country, and a culture. Not only does it rise over Shanghai as a new symbol for its modern emergence on the global stage, but also points the way forward for technical innovation accomplished within the parameters of a Chinese cultural identity. Powerful in form yet delicate in appearance, Shanghai Tower would be a graceful addition to any skyline, but its function, identify, and symbolism are firmly rooted in the needs of its specific site.” – Comment / American Architecture Prize
“Shanghai Tower shows the greatest commitment to communal space in a tall building since Commerzbank Tower completed in 1997. It contains the world’s first truly ‘inhabitable’ double-skin façade on a skyscraper, which is not only remarkable for its intended greenery, but its incorporation into the tower’s overall ventilation strategy. The sacrifice of valuable floor area to realize this social amenity proves that the aspirations for Shanghai Tower went far beyond mere commercial gain.” – Antony Wood, Juror, Executive Director, CTBUH Awards
Shanghai Tower is designed to embrace and stimulate the life of the city. Yet, instead of parks spread horizontally across the city, the tower provides gathering spaces stacked vertically. These are the innovative sky gardens that set the building apart from any highrise ever built. By emphasizing public space and locating shops, restaurants and urban amenities at the atrium levels, Shanghai Tower provides a new experience for living and working in super tall towers.
Why this shape? Gensler’s design team anticipated that three key strategies—the tower’s asymmetrical form, its tapering profile and its rounded corners—would allow the building to withstand the typhoon-force winds that are common in Shanghai.
Using wind tunnel tests conducted in a Canadian lab, Gensler and structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti refined the tower’s form, which reduced building wind loads by 24 percent. The result is a lighter structure that saved $58 million in costly materials.
The Outer Skin. Constructing a complex building shape that had never before been conceived required the most innovative tools. Designed with 20,000 + curtain wall panels—including more than 7,000 unique shapes—the façade would have been challenging to envision using traditional computer-aided design tools. With parametric software, however, Gensler was able to create a system that balances performance, constructability, maintenance and design. Precise tolerances were achieved by placing lasers on the site to take measurements.
Shanghai Tower is organized as nine cylindrical buildings stacked one atop 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 oﬀ er spaces within Shanghai Tower for interaction and community with restaurants, cafés, coﬀ ee 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, establishing a visual connection between the tower’s interiors and Shanghai’s urban fabric. At night the building’s glowing translucent form further highlights interior public spaces. On the ground level, retail and event spaces, in tandem with abundant entrances on the site, further the physical and visual connections between the tower and the city.
In accordance with the goals of the Shanghai Tower Construction and Development Co., Ltd., the tower will be one of the most sustainable tall buildings in the world. Working closely with Thornton Tomasetti and Cosentini, Gensler adopted a fully integrated design approach, ensuring 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 24 percent, oﬀ ering 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 and create comfortable places for people to linger. Shanghai Tower’s owners aim to register for a high level of building certiﬁ cation from the China Green Building Committee and the U.S. Green Building Council.
Project name: Shanghai Tower
Location: 501 Yincheng Middle Rd, LuJiaZui, Lujiazui Residential District, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200120
Coordinates: 31.235472, 121.501319
Type: Skyscraper, Mixed Use
- Height: 632 meter
- Stories: 128 occupied ﬂoors
- Area: 380,000 square meters above grade, 170,000 square meters below grade
- Program: Oﬃce, luxury hotel, entertainment, retail and cultural venues
- Height: 38 meters
- Stories: 5 stories high
- Area: 44,000 square meters
- Program: Luxury retail, oﬃce, hotel lobbies, bank, restaurant, conference, meeting and banquet functions. Lower levels will house retail, parking, service and MEP functions.
Site area: 30,370 sqm
Groundbreaking: November 29, 2008
Completion Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Shanghai Tower Construction and Development Co., Ltd.
Architects: Gensler – Headquarters, 2 Harrison Street Suite 400. San Francisco, CA 94105, United States
Local Design Institute: The Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University
Interior designer: (Retail, Public Space)
Lead Designer: Dan Winey
Design Team: Art Gensler, Ben Tranel, Chris Chan, Dan Winey, David Glover, Dick Fencl, Fred Liu, Grant Uhlir, Hui Ling Hsieh, Jun Xia, Marshall Strabala, Michael Peng, Robert Price, Tanja Speckmann, Aleksandar Sasha Zeljic,Steve Weindel, Xiaomei Le
- Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
- MEP Engineers: Cosentini Associates
- Wind Tunnel Testing: Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin (RWDI)
- Landscape Architect: SWA
- Vertical Transportation: Edgett Williams Consulting Group, Inc. (EWCG)
- Fire Protection and Life Safety: RJA Fire Protection Technology Consulting (RJA)
- Building Façade: Aurecon Engineer Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.(Aurecon)
- Lighting: PHA /Tower; BPI/ Podium, Crown and Interior
- Acoustical: SM&W
- Parking: Walker Parking Consultants
- General Contractor: Shanghai Construction Group (SCG)
- Steel Structure Construction: Shanghai Mechanized Construction Corporation Ltd.,(SMCC)
- Curtain Wall Contractor: Yuanda (Exterior curtain wall); Jiangho (interior curtain wall); Lingyun(Podium curtain wall)
Text Description: © Courtesy of Gensler, Thornton Tomasetti
Images: © Gensler, Shanghai Tower, Gensler-Shen Zhonghai, Blackstation, Arch Record, flickr-Marshall Strabala,