China’s tallest building dramatically twists skywards from its footing in Lujiazui. The 121-storey, 632m-tall, Gensler-designed Shanghai Tower topped out in August 2013 and opened in mid-2016. The spiral-shaped tower houses office space, entertainment venues, shops, a conference centre, a luxury hotel and ‘sky lobbies’. The gently corkscrewing form – its nine interior cylindrical units wrapped in two glass skins – is the world’s second-tallest building at the time of writing. The observation deck on the 118th floor is the world's highest.
The twist is introduced by the outer skin of glass that swivels through 120 degrees as it rises, while atrium ‘sky gardens’ in the vertical spaces sandwiched between the two layers of glass open up a large volume of the tower to public use. The tower is sustainably designed: as well as providing insulation, the huge area of glass vastly reduces electrical consumption through the use of sunlight. The tower’s shape furthermore reduces wind loads by 24%, which generated a saving of US$58m in construction costs. Before the tower even went up, engineers were faced with building a 61,000-cu-metre concrete mat that would support its colossal mass in the boggy land of Pudong.
Uppermost floors of the tower are reserved for that obligatory Shanghai attraction – the world’s highest skydeck above ground level – with passengers ferried skywards in the world’s fastest lifts (64km/h), designed by Mitsubishi (and the world’s tallest single-lift elevator). Visitors can gaze down on both the Jinmao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center below. A six-level luxury retail podium fills the base of the tower.