Gensler’s tower with a twist tops the WAN AWARDS

Nick Myall
24 Jan 2017

The WAN Façade Award was presented to Gensler for their “megatall” Shanghai Tower at BAU in Munich last week

Gensler’s Shanghai Tower has won the 2016 WAN Façade Award. A presentation took place at BAU in Munich on 20 January, with Ben Tranel, Principal at Gensler, receiving the award on behalf of the firm. BAU is the leading Trade Fair for Architecture, Materials and Systems and is held every two years in Munich. The event is widely regarded as the industry's most important gathering.

The tower sports two glass façades, an inner one and an outer one, like overlapping "tubes". The space between the two "tubes" varies from 3 to 33 ft wide, providing more public space inside the building. In the meantime, the space functions as a heat insulation layer like in a thermos flask making the building environment-friendly and cutting costs.

BAU Exhibition Director Mirko Arend said: "After eight years of successful cooperation, we were very pleased to welcome the first WAN AWARDS architecture category, Façades. We were delighted to have Ben Tranel visit from San Francisco to receive Gensler's award for the winning Shanghai Tower. An overwhelming project and a just winner."

Commenting on the event and the WAN Façade Award Ben Tranel went on to say, "BAU 2017 was an incredible panoply of cutting edge exhibitions and speakers. As an architect it was inspirational to see so many people who share a common spirit of honing their craft and focusing on the quality of our built environment. I came away not only with creative new ideas but also energized to tackle some of our toughest design challenges. And of course receiving the WAN Award for The Shanghai Tower was a highlight!"  

Click here to get more details on the WAN AWARDS Façades jury and their views and comments on the winning project.

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) The Shanghai Tower was finished towards the end of 2015 and stands 632m tall, becoming only the third building in the world to achieve “megatall” (600-plus metres) status. 

The building was designed by Gensler with the Chinese architect Jun Xia leading the design team on the project.

As Shanghai is on a seismic belt and the construction site is in a river basin, a firm foundation for this skyscraper was critical. To firm up the ground, engineers first put 980 foundation piles underground to a depth of 282 ft, and then poured 2.15 m cubic feet of concrete to set a 20 ft thick baseboard for anchoring the main building.

As the third tower in the trio of signature skyscrapers at the heart of Shanghai’s Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, Shanghai Tower embodies a new prototype for tall buildings. Placed in close proximity to Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center, the new tower soars high above the skyline, its curved façade and spiralling form symbolizing the dynamic emergence of modern China. 

But its twisting form goes beyond just creating a unique appearance; wind tunnel tests confirm a 24% savings in structural wind loading when compared to a rectangular building of the same height.

The tower twists about one degree per floor to offset the wind effect at higher altitude helping the supertall building withstand Shanghai’s frequent typhoons.

The tower also incorporates numerous green architecture elements and its owners have received certifications from the China Green Building Committee and the U.S. Green Building Council for the building's sustainable design.

The tower’s program is unique for being organized into nine vertical zones. Each of these “vertical neighbourhoods” rise from a sky lobby, a light-filled garden atrium that creates a sense of community and supports daily life with a varied program catering to tenants and visitors.

Listen to our podcast with Ben Tranel Principal at Gensler and Professor Thomas Auer, Head of Technology at Munich University here.....

Click here to view a PDF of the Shanghai Tower project

Nick Myall

News editor

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