Behind the Design: Citymark Tower

The anchor of the Citymark urban plan, a development spanning five full city blocks at the front row of the Hongling Emerging Financial Industry Belt, this iconic supertall tower stands at 388 meters, making it one of the tallest buildings in Northeast Shenzhen. With 7 floors underground and 70 above, the project’s scale is so great that its impact on the city of Shenzhen extends far beyond its total construction area of 180,000 square meters; it redefines the city’s skyline where it serves as a symbol of innovation and growth.

Construction progress on the tower. Image credit: Shenzhen Maihuan Real Estate Co. Ltd. (left three) and Rex Zou (final right).

Speed on the Skyline

From the beginning, a guiding goal for the KPF design team was to balance the strict requirements related to the depth of the tower and its total height. The result is a volume that gradually tapers as it ascends, with straight lines and rigid edges producing dramatic views on all sides and creating a sense of momentum as the tower reaches into the sky, echoing the spirit and dynamism of Shenzhen.

Concept sketch by the team (left) compared to topped out view of the tower (right).

The tower’s aerodynamic design takes inspiration from the sleek lines of high-end automobiles and aircraft, a reference to the client’s background as a luxury car dealer. Maximizing opportunities within the floorplates, the lower levels are dedicated to office tenants while the higher levels are residential. This allows for apartments to feature terraces, which are incorporated into the tower’s prominent grooves.

The tower’s crown follows the same sculptural design language as the rest of its volume with edges that expand and extend upward, integrating the design of the parapet into the volume of the tower. Two BMU rails are hidden behind the parapet, while electronically operated windows are set on the back of the parapet to increase natural ventilation in the roof garden. Additionally, a helicopter rescue platform is located at the top of the tower.

Illuminated Geometry

For the tower’s façade, the design team used unitized, high-performance plates of low-E glass. Two types of glass emphasize the beauty of the tower’s volume: On the main façade, marking the four primary panels, glass with strong reflectivity allows the tower to blend with the surrounding landscape. On the secondary panels that rise to reveal the terraces of the residential floors, low reflectivity glass highlights the motion of the tapering volume. Linen-textured stainless steel, meanwhile, defines the window frames.

Diagram of the building’s window make up and operation system.

The tower’s unique lighting design is also its visual highlight. The team at LPA utilized the façade’s architectural geometry to light the tower in vertical strips from top to bottom. The proportion of bright to dark was set at 30/70, resulting in a simple and elegant viewing experience from both the ground plane and neighboring structures.

Construction progress (left) and the tower’s lighting system at dusk (right, credit: Shenzhen Maihuan Real Estate Co. Ltd.)

The lighting design of the tower crown is the building’s finishing touch: The vertical linear lighting gradually fades from bottom to top, disrupted by warm strips of horizontal lighting that mark the sky lobbies. At the crown, illuminated triangular forms make the building a highly recognizable feature on the city skyline.

The tower’s skygarden, located in the crown, features views towards the KPF-designed Ping An Finance Centre to the southwest. Credit: Atchain.

Security and Sustainability

As a supertall tower, Citymark Centre was designed to the highest standards of safety without sacrificing views. Wind tunnel tests helped to optimize the tower’s hybrid structural system and the high-strength materials allow the tower to withstand typhoons and earthquakes as high as magnitude 7 on the Richter scale. The tower’s columns are embedded with waist trusses on the equipment floor, avoiding view obstructions from structural components. KPF worked with a team of consultants, including RWDI, to develop a unique damper system integrated into the tower’s fire water tank. This solution balances firefighting needs with comfort requirements.

The tower’s core and framing system ensure stability.

Even at the tower’s highest levels, electronically controlled, operable windows allow occupants access to fresh air. They also allow the building to take advantage of natural ventilation, aiding the project in meeting green building requirements.

Citymark Centre’s energy consumption is reduced by energy-saving VAV central air-conditioning systems, electric windows that increase ventilation, and environmentally friendly lighting design. The project combines multiple measures to minimize its impact on Shenzhen’s natural ecology. To help meet Sponge City requirements and prevent flooding, the development holds a percentage of rainwater onsite and filters it through a network of green roofs, water features, and rain gardens. Water that falls on non-permeable parts of the towers and pavement is directed toward the site’s extensive planted rain gardens, which absorb excess water, preventing it from overwhelming the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Currently, the project has a two-star green building certification and pre-certification for LEED and WELL at the gold level.

Elegance Inside

The building includes a below-grade parking lot, a significant contribution to the center of the city, equipped with intelligent parking and fresh air systems. An exclusive Exhibition Hall section is designed to accommodate top luxury cars and features spaces with exclusive spotlights, creating a memorable experience for owners.

Views of the below-grade parking lot and lobby.

The project’s interiors adopt the design language of the tower’s façade. Two giant columns at the corners of the first floor merge into one in the lobby space. The columns are cast in dark metal plates, emphasizing their sculptural form and strength. White stone on the core wall provides a sophisticated contrast.

The lobby features access to street level and below-grade systems.

The walls of the lobby are made of aluminum cast copper panels, where hexagonal shapes echo the geometry of the tower. The material combination of white marble and aluminum creates an elegant aesthetic. 44 KONE elevators allow access to any floor without transfer. This vertical traffic efficiency reinforces the idea of “Shenzhen Speed,” a local saying that refers to the city’s rapid pace of growth, and dynamic energy.

Daytime view of Citymark Centre. The project is currently topped out and scheduled to open 2024.