Modern Shanghai

Including 3 of the World's Tallest Towers

Shanghai, our home, is famed for its architecture with a large range of buildings from various dynasties, concession period styles, Art Deco from the 1930s, socialist and brutalist buildings from the latter part of the 20th century and some provocative modern designs.

Modern Shanghai - Jin Mao Tower

Jin Mao Tower


This beauty is one of three super-tall skyscrapers located side-by-side in Pudong, Shanghai. Reaching 420 meters and completed in 1999 it was the first of the three skyscrapers which frame the Pudong skyline.

The design is uniquely postmodern and draws on traditional Chinese architecture styles such as pagodas. Similar to Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, the Jin Mao has proportions revolving around the lucky number 8. As expected, advanced structural engineering systems strengthen the building against high winds and earthquakes.

Inside the tower can be found 61 high speed elevators and 19 escalators, a Hyatt Hotel (utilising the top 34 floors and the lower 2 floors), shopping mall and 50 floors of office space. One unusual feature is the world's longest laundry chute which runs the entire length of the building and needs buffers to slow laundry down as it makes its way to the laundry room.

Modern Shanghai - Shanghai Tower
Modern Shanghai - Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower

Shanghai Tower


This is the big one at 632 meters tall and second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as the world's tallest. With 128 floors above ground and another three below and renowned for its high energy efficiency with awards from the China Green Building Committee and the US Green Building Council. The design ensures that wind loads are reduced by 24% while the tower was constructed using 25% less steel than conventional buildings of the same height would need. 

The design was by American architects Gensler led by local Jun Xia and is formed of nine cylindrical buildings stacked on one another enclosed by a glass facade. The outer layer twists as it rises and separates the tower into nine zones of offices, gardens, cafes, restaurants and retail spaces. There are 149 elevators with the fastest reaching 1,080 meters per minute.

Oriental Pearl Tower


This is the building that started off Shanghai's futuristic skyline back in the 1990s. The spire reaches a height of 467 meters and during the night the tower is lit in different LED sequenced. Eleven spheres dominate the building with the two largest having diameters of 50 m and 45 m. The tower is supported by three large columns built up from deep below ground.

A revolving restaurant at 267 m, exhibition facilities and a shopping mall are some of the facilities within the tower along with a 20-room hotel (Space Hotel) built between the two largest spheres. The highest observation deck has an outside area affording views towards Puxi (the western bank of the Huangpu river) and elsewhere in Pudong.

Symbolism was paramount in the building's construction as the design of the tower is said to have reminded architects of a verse from a classical Tang Dynasty poem, 'Pipa Song' which refers to a pipa instrument which sounds like pearls falling onto a jade plate.

Modern Shanghai - Oriental Pearl Tower (and Jin Mao, Shanghai Tower and Shanghai Financial Center behind)
Modern Shanghai - China Art Museum / Shanghai EXPO

China Art Museum


Despite appearances, this is a very modern building and was originally constructed to house the China Pavilion during the EXPO 2010 and now is a museum of modern art.

The pavilion reaches 63 metres and resembles an ancient crown or a traditional Chinese corbel bracket which is called a dougong. The design represents the union between heaven and earth and is painted in seven different shades of Chinese red to symbolize Chinese culture and good fortune. The building and the exhibition within it cost around US$220 million and covers 43,904 sq.m.

Sustainability is a key feature with thermal insulation and natural ventilation found on the exterior, a large overhang which provides shade and a 0.36 mega-watt solar energy system above.

Shanghai World Financial Tower


The bottle opener - they even sell souvenir bottle openers in the vistors' centre - was design by Kohn Pedersen Fox and stretches to 492 metres above the Pudong skyline and has been widely praised for its innovative design. It's located next to the Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower.

The trapezoid aperture at the peak on the tower is its crowning feature and measures 46 metres in diameter though was originally intended to be circular. That design was considered by some to be too similar to Japan's rising sun design. Observation decks are situated below and above the aperture with the highest on the 100th floor.

The aperture is formed of structural steel and reinforced concrete and compressive and bending forces on the building are carried down to ground level by the building's diagonal-braced frame. 

The building was named as the best skyscraper completed in 2008 and received awards from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and acclaim from architects around the world.

Modern Shanghai - Shanghai World Financial Center / The Bottle Opener
Modern Shanghai - Shanghai Grand Theatre, People's Square

Shanghai Grand Theater


Described as one of the best equipped theatres in the world this performance house occupies ten floors and covers 62,803 sq.m. Inside can be found the main auditorium, two separate theatres, rehearsal halls, VIP halls and exhibition space.

The main auditorium covers 1000 sq.m. and can seat 1631 people with a layout that ensures the audience is as close to the action as possible and receives the best audio-visual angles. Colors of gold and red dominate the interior and is sees frequent use for plays, operas, symphonies and ballets.

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