Gensler Tops Out on World’s Second Tallest Skyscraper: Shanghai Tower

  • 08 Aug 2013
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  • In Progress Mixed Use Skyscrapers
Courtesy of

On schedule to be ’s tallest and the world’s second tallest skyscraper, the Gensler -designed Shanghai Tower has topped out at 632 meters (2,074 feet). Upon completion in 2014, the spiraling megastructure will complete a trio of towers – including the adjacent Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center – to become the centerpiece of the city’s Lujiazui commercial district – one of Asia’s leading financial centers which developed from farmland in just over 20 years.

Defined by series of distinctive sky gardens, the state-of-the-art tower will house Class-A office and retail space, along with a luxury hotel and cultural venues.

Continue reading to learn how the Shanghai Tower’s structure saved millions and why it will achieve LEED Gold.

Courtesy of Gensler

Tower Composition

Shanghai Tower is organized as nine cylindrical buildings stacked one atop the other. The inner layer of the double-skin façade encloses the stacked buildings, while the exterior façade creates the building envelope, which rotates 120 degrees as it rises and gives Shanghai Tower its distinctive, curving appearance. The spaces between the two façade layers create nine atrium sky gardens. Much like plazas and civic squares in traditional cities, the public sky atria offer spaces within Shanghai Tower for interaction and community gathering space with restaurants, cafés, coffee shops and convenience stores, as well as lush landscaping throughout. With sky gardens lining its perimeter, Shanghai Tower is literally enveloped in public spaces.

Courtesy of Gensler

Shanghai Tower’s interior and exterior skins are transparent, establishing a visual connection between the tower’s interiors and the urban fabric of Shanghai. On the ground level, retail and event spaces, in tandem with abundant entrances on the site and a subway station under the building, continue the physical and visual connections between the tower and the city.

Shanghai Tower will have the world’s fastest elevators, with the Mitsubishi-designed, double-height cabs whisking building occupants and visitors skyward at 40 mph using innovative technologies designed specifically for the tower.

Courtesy of Gensler

Sustainable Strategies

Sustainability is at the core of Shanghai Tower’s design. The façade’s taper, texture and asymmetry work in partnership to reduce wind loads on the building by 24 percent, offering a $58 million USD savings in overall building materials. The building’s transparent inner and outer skins admit maximum natural daylight, thereby reducing the need for electric light. The tower’s outer skin also insulates the building, reducing energy use for heating and cooling. The tower’s spiraling parapet collects rainwater, which is used for the tower’s heating and air conditioning systems.

Courtesy of Gensler

Wind turbines located directly beneath the parapet generate on-site power for the upper floors of the building, with a 2,130kW natural gas-fired cogeneration system on site providing electricity and heat energy to the lower floors. Fully one third of the site will be green space with landscaping that cools the site. Overall, Shanghai Tower’s sustainable strategies will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by 34,000 metric tons per year; and the tower is targeting LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and the China Green Building Three Star rating.

Courtesy of Gensler

“With the topping out of Shanghai Tower, the Lujiazui trio will serve as a stunning representation of our past, our present and China’s boundless future,” said Jun Xia, Shanghai Tower design leader and Gensler principal. “This tower takes inspiration from Shanghai’s tradition of parks and neighborhoods, recasting that history in a high-density, urban form symbolizing the emergence of modern Shanghai and China.”

Architects: Gensler
Owner, Developer, Contractor: Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co., Ltd.
Local Design Institute: Architectural Design & Research Institute of Tongji University
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Mep Engineer: Cosentini Associates
Landscape Architect: SWA
Site Area: 30,370 square meters
Building Area: 380,000 square meters above grade; 141,000 square meters below grade
Stories: 121 occupied floors
Height: 632 meters
Area: 0.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of Gensler

More construction images and information on our previous coverage here

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Gensler Tops Out on World’s Second Tallest Skyscraper: Shanghai Tower" 08 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • Steven Chung

    Cool Design, plus an ecologic architecture

  • joan mills

    Shanghai Tower was designed by Marshall Strabala, former Director of Design,/Gensler until he opened his own firm 2Define Architecture. Strabala was chief architect at G, and immediately hired by the client, when he started his own firm to guide the building to completion..he is the author.
    Karissa, why no interview with the proper designer of the building?
    Strabala’s pedigree includes, designer of Burj Khalifa and Nanjing Greenland. With Shanghai Tower project he has designed 3 of the 10 tallest in the world. Gensler used Strabala’s portfolio to enter the competition, because Gensler is an interior decoration firm.
    Now that Strabala is gone, with his new firm…hmmm…
    check out his flickr site and google him for 16 pages of accurate journalism.

    • Gensler Stars

      Dear Joan
      Someone must have terribly misinformed you. Strabler Marshala has nothing to do with the design of the Shanghai Tower.
      Peter Weingarten of Gensler was and is the Design Director and Principal Architect of the Shanghai Tower. Please check out the appropriate Wiki pages. Peter Weingarten did a wonderful job in conceiving the design and seeing it through execusion. Weingarten is a great, great architect

  • Michael Joseph

    Kudos to Marshall Strabala, Chief Architect of the Shanghai Tower, for his design of the colossal facility. There are some excellent videos on YouTube showing interviews with Mr. Strabala and behind-the-scenes tours of Shanghai Tower.

  • Archie Leach

    If the building is in Shanghai CHINA, why does the artist rendering of the completed tower ONLY SHOW WHITE PEOPLE IN IT????