Shanghai World Financial Center

Park Hyatt, Shanghai

Shanghai, China Mori Building Co., Ltd. Shanghai Modern, Architect-of-Record; Irie Miyake, Executive Architect; Mori Building, Project Architect; Tony Chi, Interior Designer Mixed-Use, Office, Supertall, Hospitality 4 million ft2 / 382,000 m2 492 meters MIPIM Asia - Participant's Choice Award (2009), MIPIM Asia - Best Chinese Project (2009), CTBUH - Best Tall Building: Worldwide (2008)

A square prism—the symbol used by the ancient Chinese to represent the earth—is intersected by two cosmic arcs, representing the heavens, as the tower ascends in gesture to the sky. The interaction between these two realms gives rise to the building’s form, carving a square sky portal at the top of the tower that lends balance to the structure and links the two opposing elements—the heavens and the earth.

Soaring above the city skyline, the Shanghai World Financial Center stands as a symbol of commerce and culture that speaks to the city’s emergence as a global capital.

A virtual city within a city, the 381,600-gross-square-meter SWFC houses a mix of office and retail uses, as well as the Park Hyatt Shanghai on the 79th to 93rd floors. Occupying the tower’s uppermost floors, the SWFC Sky Arena offers visitors aerial views of the historic Lujiazui and winding river below and the chance to literally walk almost 500 meters above the city via the 100th-floor Sky Walk. A large retail volume wraps around the base of the tower and faces a planned public park on the site’s eastern side, further activating the sphere of activity at street level.

The elemental forms of the heavens and the earth are used again in the design of the building’s podium where an angled wall representing the horizon cuts through the overlapping circle and square shapes. The wall’s angle creates a prominent façade for the landscaped public space on the tower’s western side, and organizes the ground level to provide separate entrances for office workers, hotel guests and public access to express elevator service for Sky Walk visitors. The wall is expressed in Jura yellow limestone, and the base of the tower is clad in Maritaca green Brazilian granite with a split-face finish, which contrast beautifully with the metal of the circular wall and diaphanous glass skin enveloping the retail volume.

Originally conceived in 1993, the project was put on hold during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and was later redesigned to its current height—32 meters higher than previous. The new, taller structure would not only have to be made lighter, but would need to resist higher wind loads and utilize existing foundations which had been constructed prior to the project delay. The project’s structural engineer, Leslie E. Robertson Associates, arrived at an innovative structural solution which abandoned the original concrete frame structure in favor of a diagonal-braced frame with outrigger trusses coupled to the columns of the mega-structure. This enabled the weight of the building to be reduced by more than 10%, consequently reducing the use of materials and resulting in a more transparent structure in visual and conceptual harmony with the tower’s elegant form.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) says of the project: “The building has become an icon of Shanghai and China, with its clear and elegant form dramatic at all scales. [It] speaks to where tall building design is now… the building’s structure is nothing short of genius.”

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