Shanghai tower

Year:2015

Duration:7 years

Cost:US$2.4bn

Country: Shanghai, China

What did this project achieve?

Design and build China’s tallest building that includes office space and a hotel

The Shanghai tower is a 632m high, 128-storey skyscraper in the Lujiazui finance and trade zone of Shanghai in China. Completed in 2015 and officially opened to the public in 2016, the tower is the world’s tallest building and can accommodate up to 16,000 people.

Owned by the Shanghai city government, the tower has the world’s highest observation deck and the world’s fastest elevators that go at 73.8km an hour.

The structure is made up of 9 cylindrical buildings stacked on top of each other. A total of 127 floors are encased by the inner layer of the glass façade. Between the inner layer and an outer layer – which twists by 120° as it rises – there are 9 indoor zones. Each zone contains public space for visitors.

Each of the 9 indoor zones have panoramic views of the city with their own gardens, cafes and shops.

As well as the world’s highest restaurant, the building also has one of the world’s highest swimming pools. Part of the 258-room Four Seasons hotel, the pool-with-a-view is on the 84th floor, 393m above ground.

The Shanghai tower is the tallest of 3 mega-skyscrapers at the centre of the city’s financial district. The others are the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Centre.

Difference the tower has made

The Shanghai Tower is seen as an architectural statement of China’s confidence in its future as one of the world’s superpowers.

The structure provides living, work and recreation facilities for up to 16,000 people at a time. It’s attracted foreign investment and become a major tourist attraction in Shanghai, bringing income to the area and boosting the city’s economy.

How the work was done

Engineers created the Shanghai Tower to be one of the most sustainably advanced tall buildings in the world.

The structure’s second transparent glass skin is a key part of its ‘green design’. The second skin wraps around the entire building and helps conserve energy by modulating the temperature between the inner and outer layers – warming up cool air in winter and dissipating heat in the summer.

The project team designed the tower’s glass outer façade – which has a 120° twist as it rises – to reduce the effects of wind on the building by up to 24%.

Cutting wind load also reduced the amount of construction materials engineers needed. The tower uses 25% less structural steel than a conventional design of similar height.

Using less steel made the building lighter – important as it’s built on soft ground.

The structure’s green-first approach saw engineers develop systems for the building to collect rainwater for internal use.

270 vertical wind turbines were installed near the top of the structure. These are expected to provide 10% of the building’s electricity.

The tower has won awards for sustainability. As well as certification from the China Green Building Committee, it’s been recognised by the US Green Building Council.

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Shanghai Tower redefines the role of tall buildings in contemporary cities and raises the bar for the next generation of super high-rises.

Art Gensler, Gensler Architects

speaking at the tower’s topping out ceremony, August 2013.

Fascinating facts

The Shanghai tower has 125 floors. It covers a total of 576,000m² - approximately 410,000m² are above ground with another 166,000m² below ground.

Engineers used 60,000m³ of concrete for the building. The concrete pour took place over 63 hours using 450 mixer trucks and 8 pumping stations around the city.

The structure is the first high-rise with a cloud computing system able to serve up to 20,000 people at one time.

People who made it happen

  • Architects: Gensler
  • Structural engineers: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Mechanical engineers: Cosentini Associates
  • Contractors: Shanghai Construction Group

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