6 may 15  |  Architizer

Why the High-Tech Chengdu Tower Represents the Future of Western Chinese Cities

by Matt Shaw

Sometimes it's necessary to look beyond typical typologies. That's why the A+ Awards offers the "Architecture Plus" categories, which reward projects at the intersection of architecture and other parts of life. With categories such as Architecture + Sustainability, Architecture + Branding, and Architecture + Urban Transformation, these connections are important because architecture becomes better when it engages outside itself, and is not hermetically sealed in its own history and disciplinary discourse.

The Architecture + Technology category featured a host of projects that incorporated the cutting edge of science and technology. One is the Chengdu Greenland Tower by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a 1,500-foot, supertall, mixed-use tower in Chengdu, an up-and-coming western Chinese city whose development is behind its coastal sisters, but is quickly becoming a modern, giant metropolis. The tower will be the fourth highest in China and is part of a larger master plan that will drive density away from the city center.

The tower is part of this transformation. Its faceted, diamond-like form shoots toward the sky, creating an icon. The local light conditions make the panels glimmer facing both up and down, reflecting both street and sky. Structure and architecture are integrated closely in the design. The triangular shapes also act as a sort of diagrid, making for a very strong frame.

This eliminated the need for an active dampening system, while the tapered shape also helps deflect the forces of wind. In addition to the typical wind loads, the building had to be built to withstand seismic loads, and the form is effective in this regard as well. The four-million-square-foot building sits on a six-story podium, and features a roof garden with 360-degree views of the city.

Supertall buildings are not typically high-efficiency, but the Chengdu Tower pushes forward in this regard. The building has a condensate recovery system that takes advantage of Chengdu's hot and humid climate to harvest water for the building. The air filtration system delivers fresh air, and a fully glazed facade lets light deep into the interior, thanks to high floor-to-floor heights.