May 13, 2016

Bund SOHO, winner of China Best Tall Building Overall Award

The inaugural CITAB-CTBUH China Tall Building Awards were held at Shanghai Tower on May 13, the culmination of more than a year’s worth of planning. More than 400 were in attendance for the symposium, ceremony and dinner, which took place in the 5th-floor Garden Ballroom of the recently completed Shanghai Tower.

At the dinner, the CITAB-CTBUH China Tall Building Awards Jury announced the winner of the inaugural China Best Tall Building Overall Award: Bund SOHO, Shanghai. The final decision was the result of a juried selection process considering more than 90 entries from around the country. In February, the China Tall Building Awards Jury named four Excellence Award recipients: The Asia Pacific Tower & Jinling Hotel, Nanjing; Bund SOHO, Shanghai; Hongkou SOHO, Shanghai; and Wangjing SOHO, Beijing.

Senior representatives of each of the Excellence Awardees gave presentations at the Awards Symposium at Shanghai Tower, with the jury convening immediately afterwards to determine an overall winner. Jury Chair Chunhua Song, former vice minister of the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD), then had the honor of awarding the title of overall “China Best Tall Building” to Bund SOHO.

Chunhua Song, jury chair, announces the China Best Tall Building Overall Award winner.

Chunhua Song, Jury Chair, announces the China Best Tall Building Overall Award winner.

China Awards Jury Chair Song characterized the process of selecting the inaugural Best Tall Building winner, “The decision was unanimous, but carefully considered. The consensus was that Bund SOHO adapted well to a challenging site, demonstrated a respect for local history, and was well-detailed, using warm-colored materials that coincided with the community.

“The Awards Jury commented, “Bund SOHO resolves a difficult site, historic surroundings, the requirements of the modern office building, and the responsibility of a high-profile waterfront location in Shanghai with a reserved distinction. It is like a ship’s prow, pushing the frontier forward of the established central Bund into new, uncharted territories, with visible confidence. There are discernible shades of Raymond Hood’s work at Rockefeller Center, New York and nods to the Art-Deco predecessors on the Bund, as well as to the existing grain of the neighborhood. Nevertheless, a project of unique qualities has been rendered here.”

Stephan Rewolle, Associate Partner, von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, accepting the award for Bund SOHO, said, “I want to congratulate the organizers for this very professional and very great event. Secondly I want to thank our clients SOHO China for making this possible. You have been a really great client and it’s been inspiring work. I want to thank ECADI as being a good partner. And of course I want to thank my team in Beijing, I think you did a really good job.”

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Stephan Rewolle(L), Associate Partner, von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects accepting the award for Bund SOHO; Right: Remo Riva(R), Design Director of P&T Group presenting on Asia Pacific Tower and Jinling Hotel

The audience also heard from three other China Best Tall Building Excellence Award and two Honorable Distinction recipients. Remo Riva, Design Director of P&T Group, described how both the original design and the new addition to the Asia Pacific Tower and Jinling Hotel were inspired by auspicious shapes in Chinese culture, such as the octagon, by contemporary feng shui requirements, and by local landmarks in Nanjing, such as the memorial to the founder of the Chinese Republic, Sun Yat Sen.

Representing Hongkou SOHO, Shanghai, Wansheng Wang, Vice President, Tongji Architectural Design Institute (TJAD) described how the distinctive project was essentially a case of façade design, because the initial plan shape had already been set before SOHO acquired the project.

“The proportion of the design was not perfect, so how could we make it more elegant?” Wang said. “We had to make something like a Phoenix from an ordinary bird.”

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Wansheng Wang(L), Vice President, Tongji Architectural Design Institute presenting on Hongkou SOHO; Right: Yu Zhang(R), Vice President of Design, CCDI Group accepted award for Wangjing SOHO

A particularly distinctive work of proportion and shape could be found at Wangjing SOHO, Beijing, represented by Eugene Leung, Lead Designer, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Yu Zhang, Vice President of Design, CCDI Group. The unusual pill-and-fish-shaped structures, which many consider a “futuristic” look, were so technically demanding that they required an approach that recalled an earlier time when architectural design and engineering were the same discipline, Zhang said.

“There is no real division of the brain,” Zhang said. “A binary analysis of an issue causes us to forget the fundamental reason we want to do something in the first place. Every day there were a lot of drawings and practical issues, and environmental concern about the project. We were always considering constructability and choice of technologies.”

The audience also learned about the detailing behind the wildly different, if equally fascinating facades of the Jiangxi Nanchang Greenland Center twin towers in Nanchang and the People’s Daily New Headquarters, Beijing. Yue Zhu, Associate Director at SOM, described how the sophisticated use of cold-bent glass on the Nanchang duo required not only extensive computer modeling of bending tolerances for glass and the steel support structure, but even the properties of the glue that would keep the double layers of glass intact under stress. Prof. Qi Zhou of Southeast University School of Architecture detailed the decision process for the distinctively curved building, which involved studying material properties for more than a year. In the end, the curved shape was anything but arbitrary, providing good wind resistance, maintaining an above average floor-area ratio for a Beijing office building, and “embedding novelty and surprise” into the building, which could be experienced from within and without.

In addition to the China Best Tall Building award, the China Tall Building Awards recognized and showcased projects in several other categories. Michael Greene accepted the China Urban Habitat Award for Jing An Kerry Centre, Shanghai, on behalf of architect KPF.

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Haiyan Qu(L), Deputy Chief Engineer of North Region accepted the Construction Award for Forum 66; Right: Michael Greene(R), Principal, KPF accepted the China Urban Habitat Award for Jing An Kerry Centre

Greene noted that the project, which manages the transition from the traditional neighborhood scale to the superblock scale through skilful manipulations of the pedestrian paths and building massing was inspired by the work of artist Sol LeWitt. Working at this scale, “forces the architect into the role of planner, and the developer into the role of a sort of urban caretaker,” Greene said.

Haiyan Qu, Deputy Chief Engineer of North Region, accepted the Construction Award (a category which is unique to China, and launched with this year’s awards) for Shenyang’s Forum 66, on behalf of China Construction Steel Structure Corporation. The 351-meter building, which slants continuously from top to bottom at 3.82 degrees from the vertical, is the world’s tallest building to have a tilt angle this steep. This required a number of techniques, such as enlarged connection bolts and a system of carefully timed welds to account for the structural elements expanding and contracting during construction in the harsh northeast China climate.

The China Tall Building Innovation Award winners, Mega-Suspended Curtain Wall, were in familiar territory – the innovation is the key to the Shanghai Tower’s graceful flowing, twisting shape. Dr. Zhijun He, Chief Engineer, Technology Development Department, TJAD and Xiaomei Lee, Vice President & Executive Director, Gensler accepted the award. Dr. He noted that the aerodynamics needed to keep the building safe in typhoon conditions necessitated the design as much as the brief to make it appear different from its “two sisters” in Lujiazui, Shanghai World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower.

The awards not only recognize projects. Of course, there would be no projects without the efforts of extremely talented and hard-working people. The inaugural China Tall Building Outstanding Achievement award went to Dasui Wang, Chief Engineer of ECADI and China Design Master. Though his resume reads a like a list of nearly all the famous Chinese skyscrapers of the last 30 years, his modesty is the equal of any of his buildings in measuring his career.

Dasui Wang (R) accepts the outstanding achievement award from Wang Jun, Vice President, Architectural Society of China (L)

Dasui Wang (R) accepts the outstanding achievement award from Wang Jun, Vice President, Architectural Society of China (L)

“I am just a practitioner, a participant, a witness in the history of the industry,” Wang said. “I have learned much from my peers, and gotten a lot of support from partners.”

The awards symposium also took advantage of the industry-wide attendance to stage two discussion panels. One was comprised of architects behind two projects in the “Legacy Awards” category, which honors tall buildings constructed from the time of China’s economic opening to 2005. The audience heard from architects and engineers at the Guangzhou Design Institute (GDI), which designed the original and renovated versions of the White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou, and East China Architectural Design Institute (ECADI), which designed the original and renovated versions of the Huadong Electrical Power Distribution Building in Shanghai.

The second panel was comprised of developers, including Jianping Gu, General Manager of Shanghai Tower Construction & Development, Jerry Yin, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect of SOHO China Ltd., Jinwang Ding, General Manager, Jinling Hotel Corp., and Zhaohui Jia, Deputy Chief Architect, Greenland Group. Perhaps the most provocative statements of the panel were delivered by Gu, who, responded to a question about what advice he’d have for newcomers to the China tall building development market.

“The biggest challenge facing China is how to build fewer skyscrapers,” Gu said. “Even if you have money, you shouldn’t be too headstrong. There is no need to build such a tall building [as Shanghai Tower] in most first-, second-, third- or fourth-tier cities.” Gu, who in earlier remarks had frankly detailed the trials of bringing the project to life, went on to say that even within Shanghai, the namesake tower is sited at just about the only place it could be.

Based on the successful CTBUH worldwide tall buildings awards program, the CITAB-CTBUH China Tall Buildings Awards Program is a joint initiative of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) and the China International Exchange Committee for Tall Buildings (CITAB), established in April 2015.

Each group appoints an equal number of members to the jury, which will judge projects submitted through the process described below. The culmination of the process is an Awards Ceremony and Dinner where the awards are bestowed, preceded by an afternoon Symposium, in which the year’s award recipients and a select number of Honorable Distinction recipients present their projects.

The CITAB-CTBUH China Tall Buildings Awards recognize projects and individuals that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of Chinese tall buildings and the urban environment, and that achieve sustainability at the highest and broadest level. Tall buildings can be polarizing presences in their cities, admired for their sheer height or skyline silhouettes, and criticized for their poor environmental performance and street-level experience. The object of this awards program is to provide a more comprehensive and sophisticated view of these important structures, while advocating for improvements in every aspect of performance, including those that have the most effect on the people who use these buildings each day.