Shanghai Tower: China's Tallest Skyscraper

China's tallest skyscraper was open to the public during 2015

Shanghai Tower
Shanghai Tower.

Rong Hua/Flickr

The Shanghai Tower is now, as of 2015, the tallest Chinese skyscraper reaching over 2,073 feet in height after six years of construction. Shanghai Tower has a total construction area of 576,000 square meters, including 380,000 square meters on the ground. It is considered as the second tallest building in the World.

Shanghai Tower Structure

Shanghai Tower asymmetry was designed in such a way that wind loads were reduced by 24 percent, generating savings in both building materials and construction process. As a matter of fact, the design of the building produced more than $55 million in building material savings. 

Shanghai Tower inner layer has a triangular exterior layer that constantly shapes the building façade from all directions. Shanghai Tower is now officially the second tallest building in the world, following Burj Khalifa. The building contains a double skin façade that creates nine atrium sky gardens, cylindrical buildings stacked one atop the other, that are being used as plazas and reunions. Both skin facades are transparent establishing a connection between the buildings' interior and Shanghai’s urban fabric.

Shanghai Tower Sustainable Highlights

The Shanghai Tower features some extraordinary nature-friendly aspects such as:

  • The inner glass, part of the building's façades, uses 14 percent less glass than a building occupying the same area but in a square design.
  • The glass façade minimizes energy consumption.
  • By having two skin layers forming the building façade, the Tower creates thermal buffer zones, which improves indoor air quality.
  • Some of the building’s parapets are designed to collect rainwater, used for tower’s heating and A/C systems.
  • Shanghai Tower’s spiral shape creates an asymmetrical surface that reduces wind loads acting on the building.
  • Water treatment plants recycle grey water and stormwater for irrigation and toilet use.
  • A 38 % water consumption reduction is achieved by having interim water storage tanks distributed within the tower allowing the water pressure to be maintained by gravity.
  • Shanghai Tower has two chiller plants, strategically located in the building, reducing the energy required to pump chilled water.
  • On-site power is generated by wind turbines located directly beneath the parapet.
  • Shanghai Tower’s owners aim to register for a high level of building certification from the China Green Building Committee and the US Green Building Council.

Shanghai Tower Construction Facts

As of 2015, the Shanghai Tower claims the title of the second tallest building in the world. The project could be identified as one of the most challenging buildings of the world, and by knowing this, the development team works their way around these important facts.

  • All of the Tower’s mechanical equipment has been distributed throughout the Tower to provide design and cost efficiency.
  • The space design to locate all electrical and mechanical equipment is also used as a life safety refuge area.
  • The core of Shanghai Tower is made of a 30 square meters concrete core.
  • The massive concrete core also interacts with four super columns.
  • Shanghai Tower foundation is made of a six-meter thick mat supported by 947 bore piles.
  • The building is designed to save 21.59% in annual energy costs compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline.
  • It has a 2,000 KW natural gas-fired cogeneration system that provides electricity and heat energy.
  • Shanghai Tower has two independent curtain walls, the outermost one designed as a non-thermally broken aluminum extrusion encasing 26mm laminated low-iron glass.

Shanghai Tower Design and Construction Team

The construction process was carried out by the following companies:

  • Owner: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development
  • Developer: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development
  • Design Architect: Gensler
  • Associate Architects: Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University (Group) Co., Ltd.; ECADI, and 2DEFINE Architecture
  • Structural Engineers: Thornton Tomasetti; and Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University (Group) Co., Ltd.
  • MEP Engineers: Cosentini; Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University (Group) Co., Ltd.; and Parsons Brinckerhoff Consultants Private Limited
  • Main Contractor: Shanghai Construction
  • Other Consultants: Mitsubishi Elevator and Escalator; RWDI; and Dow Corning Corporation.