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Taller buildings, higher ambitions

By John Coulter | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-16 08:52

The Shanghai Tower by Gensler Architects will not only be the second-tallest building in the world at 632 meters (think 6 football fields end on end into the sky), but also the technologies applied to build it are radical and revolutionary, and could pave the way to even taller buildings. The building will twist into space like a lithe and sprightly new tall kid on the block.

Given Shanghai residents' penchant for things novel, it will be the place to be - for work and for leisure. The top floors with views of the entire city, with the Huangpu River flowing below and the coastline at a slight distance, will besot negotiators and visionaries alike. Like with the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, practicing yoga on its top floor could be the latest in thing to do in Shanghai.

Human beings have been trying to reach the sky since they built the Tower of Babel. European cathedrals aspire to loftiness. Skyscrapers capture our imagination and send egos soaring. "Meet you on the observation platform" is an invitation that makes us feel giddy.

The science of building skyward has a long history. Clay and bricks are structurally sound only to a certain height. In old China, given the intense pressure on space, the precious second floor required timber beams. In times of famine, though, the floorboards were stripped and sold off. Only in the 1960s did urban houses rise to 6 floors, limited by structural engineering and the prohibitive costs of elevators. By the 1980s, Shenzhen was copying Hong Kong to build 40-story buildings; the height was doubled in the next decade.

Beijing already had 50-story buildings when work on the 80-story World Trade Center Tower III started. And the rush to visit the top floor forced the management to set a high minimum rate for the eatery there.

Taller buildings, higher ambitions


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