For years, the structure formerly known as the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) was the tallest building in the world. It has long since lost that status, and recently even (at least unofficially) lost its status as the tallest building in North America, with the placement of the spire atop the new World Trade building in the Big Apple. However, Chicago continues to be an important center for all things architectual, including the headquarters of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, abbreviated to its acronym of CTBUH.
From its headquarters within the campus of the largely Mies-designed Illinois Institute of Technology, CTBUH determines the official height of buildings around the world. It makes its determinations based on a number of factors, including whether or not a spire atop a building is decorative (and therefore counts in measuring the building’s height) or functional (and therefore should not be included in the building’s official height). According to CTBUH, when it is finished, Shanghai Tower will be — officially — the second tallest building in the world.
Shanghai Tower has been under construction since Thanksgiving 2008. When completed, it will soar to 632 meters, or 2070 feet, with 128 occupied floors, making it twice the height of the Chrysler Building. Nonetheless, it will fall well short of the height of Burj Dubai, which presently holds the title of world’s tallest building.
On May 22 Dennis Poon of Thornton Tomasetti, Grant Uhlir of Gensler and Christian Von Holten of Consentini Associates, principals in the design and construction of Shanghai Tower, spoke before a packed house at the lecture hall of Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) located at 224 South Michigan Avenue. The presentation was sponsored by the CTBUH Young Professionals committee, with sponsorship support provided by a number of organizations, including CAF. Each of the three men addressed his role in the design, configuration, materials choice and actual building process of Shanghai Tower.
Shanghai Tower employs an innovative design of nine cylindrical sections of between nine and fifteen floors each, stacked atop one another, with a dual glass wall facade. The inner glass wall is directly anchored to circular floor slabs. The outer facade, which is hung from the mechanical floors of the building, gives the building its distinctive appearance of being twisted. However, this twisted appearance is merely an illusion.
When it is complete, Shanghai Tower will represent China’s first Super-Tall district. There are three buildings included in this complex: Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower. Among the functions that will be included in the completed Shanghai Tower are a luxury hotel, commercial office space, residences and the world’s highest open air observation deck, which will be located 1,844 feet off the ground.