The tallest building in China and second tallest building in the world has topped out at more than 600 metres.

Amid fortuitously good weather, a massive lightning display marked completion of the Shanghai Tower last Friday night after the final beam had earlier been put into place.

Standing at 632 metres (2,073 feet), the tower has displaced Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca (601 metres) as the world’s second tallest building behind the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai, according to a listing published by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Located within Shanghai’s Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, the tower sits between Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center and rises to complete a trio of super-tall buildings.

Shanghai Tower China Under Construction

Shanghai Tower China Under Construction – June 2009.

Key features of the building include:

  • An organisation involving nine cyclindral buildings stacked on top of one another
  • A double-skinned façade which rotates to give a curved appearance. Its taper, texture and asymmetry work together to reduce wind load and its transparent design maximises natural light and establishes a visual connection between the tower and surrounding city
  • The world’s highest observation deck
  • One-third landscaped green space including nine atrium sky gardens situated within the spaces between the two facades and public sky atraia offering community gathering spaces with restaurants, cafés and convenience stores
  • Onsite wind turbines to power the upper floor and a natural gas fired cogeneration system to provide electricity and heating to lower floors
  • The world’s fastest elevators, with double-height cabs which travel at 40 miles per hour and were designed by Mitsubishi using innovative technology specifically for the tower.

Global architectural firm Gensler, the building’s design firm, is aiming for LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council as well as a China Green Building Three Star rating, and says sustainability measures will deliver savings to the tune of 34,000 metric tonnes in carbon emissions per year.

Shanghai Tower China Under Construction

Shanghai Tower China Under Construction – July 2012.

Construction started in 2008 and was performed using a slip form process under which the tower’s steel-reinforced concrete core was built floor by floor.

The building process, however, was not without controversy.

In 2012, large cracks began appearing in the ground near the construction site. These were blamed on ground subsidence, and it was believed they were more likely to be have been caused by excessive groundwater extraction throughout the city rather than by the weight of the tower.

In 2013, it was alleged the tower – and numerous other large buildings throughout China – had been built with salt-rich concrete, meaning that its structural steel components would therefore be subject to corrosion.

Gensler co-founder Art Gensler says the tower represents a ‘new way’ of defining and creating cities and draws inspiration from Shanghai’s tradition of parks and neighbourhoods.

“By incorporating best practices in sustainability and high-performance design, by weaving the building into the urban fabric of Shanghai and drawing community life into the building, Shanghai Tower redefines the role of tall buildings in contemporary cities and raises the bar for the next generation of super-high rises,” Gensler says.