Skyscrapers of China in the Shadow of Ancient Architecture

01
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Pagoda and Zifeng Tower (2010) in Nanjing

Old - New Architecture, Nanjing, China, Rooster Crowing Temple Pagoda, Zifeng Skyscraper
Rooster Crowing Temple Pagoda and Zifeng Tower (2010) in Nanjing, China. Photo by Dennis Wu/Moment Collection/Getty Images

Some people consider the multi-tiered pagoda as the first skyscraper of China. Like modern places of worship, the Rooster Crowing Temple shown here reaches skyward, toward the heavens—to heights that pale in comparison with Zifeng Tower in the distance.

About Zifeng Tower :

Location: Gulou District, Nanjing, China
Other Names: Nanjing Greenland Financial Center; Nanjing Greenland Square Zifeng Tower
Completed: 2010
Design Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Architectural Height: 1,476 feet (450 meters)
Floors: 66 above ground and 5 below ground
Construction Materials: composite with glass curtain wall façade
Official Website: zifengtower.com/enindex.htm (in English)

Sources: Zifeng Tower, The Skyscraper Center; Zifeng Tower, EMPORIS [accessed February 21, 2015]

02
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KK100 Finance Building (2011) in Shenzhen, Guangdong

Originally named Kingkey 100, Kingkey is the name of the Chinese company (Kingkey Group Co., Ltd) who financed this 100 floor tower and placed it near the 69 story Diwang Building at Shun Hing Square.

About KK100:

Location: Shenzhen, China
Other Names: Kingkey 100, Kingkey Finance Tower, Kingkey Finance Centre Plaza
Completed: 2011
Design Architect: Farrells (Sir Terry Farrell and Partners)
Architectural Height: 1,449.48 feet (441.8 meters)
Floors: 100 above ground and 4 below ground
Construction Materials: composite with glass curtain wall façade

Sources: KK100, The Skyscraper Center; KK100, EMPORIS [accessed February 21, 2015]

03
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Guangzhou International Finance Center (2010) in Canton

Modern Skyscraper, Zhujiang New Town business district with IFC Tower in Canton, China
Zhujiang New Town business district with IFC Tower in Canton, China. Photo by Guy Vanderelst/Photographer's Choice Collection/Getty Images

About Guangzhou International Finance Center:

Location: Zhujiang New Town, Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong, China
Other Names: Guangzhou IFC, GZIFC, Guangzhou Twin Tower 1, Guangzhou West Tower
Completed: 2010
Design Architect: Wilkinson Eyre.Architects
Architectural Height: 1,439 feet (438.6 meters)
Floors: 103 above ground and 4 below ground
Construction Materials: composite with blue glass curtain wall façade

Sources: Guangzhou International Finance Center , The Skyscraper Center; Guangzhou International Finance Center, EMPORIS [accessed February 21, 2015]

04
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Shanghai Tower (2015) in Shanghai

Shanghai Skyline and Huangpu River, with newest skyscraper, Shanghai Tower (2015)
Tall and twisty in the Shanghai Skyline, Shanghai Tower (2015). Photo by Xu Jian/Photodisc Collection/Getty Images

Shanghai has long been home to many of the skyscrapers and towers of China: the Oriental Pearl TV Tower (1995), The Jin Mao Building (1999), and the well-known bottle-opener-shaped Shanghai World Financial Centre (2008) all lead up the a building that is bound to be in the top ten tallest buildings for quite some time.

About Shanghai Tower:

Location: Lujiazui Financial Center, Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China
Other Names: Shanghai Center
Completed: 2015
Design Architect: Gensler
Architectural Height: 2,073 feet (632 meters)
Floors: 128 above ground and 5 below ground
Construction Materials: composite with pile foundation

Sources: Shanghai Tower, The Skyscraper Center; Shanghai Tower, EMPORIS [accessed February 21, 2015]

05
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Bank of China Tower (1990) in Hong Kong

Night photo of modern 1990 skyscraper Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, architect I.M. Pei
Bank of China Tower (1990) by IM Pei, Hong Kong. Photo by Guy Vanderelst/Photographer's Choice Collection/Getty Images

Architect I.M. Pei was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1983—right in the middle of the Bank of China project. Soaring 1,205 feet high, this skyscraper of China is still one of the world's tallest buildings.

About Bank of China Tower:

Location: Hong Kong, China
Completed: 1989 (officially opened in 1990)
Design Architect: Ieoh Ming Pei
Architectural Height: 1,205 feet (367.4 meters)
Stories: 72 above ground and 4 below ground
Construction Materials: One of the first tall buildings made with composite, steel and concrete, with a curtain wall façade of aluminum and glass
Style: EMPORIS calls it "structural expressionism"

About the Bank of China Tower:

When commissioned to design the Bank of China Tower, I.M. Pei wanted to create a structure that would represent the aspirations of the Chinese people yet also symbolize good will toward the British Colony. Original plans included an x-shaped cross-brace. However, in China the X shape is seen as a symbol of death. Instead, Pei opted to use less threatening diamond forms.

Another symbol used for this building is that of the bamboo plant, which represents revitalization and hope. The sectioned trunk of the Bank of China Building is inspired by the growth patterns of bamboo.

The four triangular shafts which form the building grow more narrow as the building rises. These shafts support the weight of the building and eliminate the need for many internal vertical supports. Consequently, the Bank of China uses less steel than typical for a building its size constructed at this time.

Learn More About I. M. Pei and his Work:

Sources: Bank of China Tower, The Skyscraper Center; Bank of China Tower, EMPORIS [accessed February 21, 2015]

06
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China World Trade Center Tower III (2010) in Beijing

China World Trade Center Tower 3 with China Central TV Headquarters, Beijing, smog
China World Trade Center Tower III and China Central Television Headquarters, Beijing. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images AsiaPac Collection/Getty Images

In 2013, this photo of the China World Tower (left), located near the Rem Koohaas-designed robot-looking China Central Television Headquarters (right), showed just how much China had become industrialized—Beijing still has a bad case of air pollution.

About China World Tower:

Location: Beijing, China
Other Names: China World, China World Trade Tower III, China World Trade Center
Completed: 2010
Design Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Architectural Height: 1,083 feet (330 meters)
Floors: 74 above ground and 5 below ground
Construction Materials: composite, steel, with curtain wall façade

Sources: China World Tower, The Skyscraper Center; China World Trade Center Tower III, EMPORIS; China World website [accessed February 21, 2015]