40 MPH

China’s new tallest building will have the world’s fastest elevators

China's Transition
China's Transition

On August 3, construction workers in Shanghai laid the last beam in what will be yet another towering spike in a Chinese urban skyline. At 632 meters (2,073 feet), the Shanghai Tower will be the country’s tallest building, and second highest in the world when it is completed in 2015. (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, at 828 meters, is currently the tallest.)

But that’s if the tower in Shanghai’s financial district can stay ahead of a race within the country to build ever taller skyscrapers. An 838-meter-tall building named “Sky City” under construction in Changsha is supposed to be up by 2014, but has been delayed several times. In Shenzhen, the 660-meter Ping An Finance Center is slated for completion in 2016. Last year, China built 22 buildings that were taller than 200 meters, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Habitat, the most of any country in 2012.

Skyscrapers have been sprouting across China over the past two decades, serving as signals of economic progress for various cities and provinces. But the latest building craze comes at a time when the Chinese economy has slowed to a pace economists say may be the new normal. Ghost towns, empty shopping malls, and rising vacancy rates suggest that more construction isn’t what China needs right now. (Some note that ambitious skyscraper projects actually precede an economic collapse.) But Chinese builders are plowing ahead. As we’ve noted, five other skyscraper projects, aside from those in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Changsha, are in their planning stages (link in Chinese).

The projects are impressive at least in their ambition. The Shanghai Tower, designed by the architectural firm Gensler, will be made up of nine glassy, cylindrical buildings stacked on top of each other. It will feature the world’s fastest elevators, designed by Mitsubishi, which will travel at 40mph, according to a statement from Gensler. Part of the tower will be able to rotate 120 degrees to mitigate the effects of wind. The company behind the tower expects to lease the space for offices, stores, a hotel, and cultural venues. Gu Jianping, president of Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co told reporters (paywall) at a press conference over the weekend, “We’re planning to start operations in 2015, and I believe the economy will improve by then.”

Here are some photos of Shanghai Tower:

The last piece of the tower is lifted to put in place at the top of the Shanghai Tower during the topping off ceremony in Shanghai, China, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. The Shanghai Tower is set to become the tallest building in China which is planned to be complete in 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
The topping off ceremony for Shanghai Tower on Aug 3. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
In this photo taken Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, workers on top of the almost completed Shanghai Tower prepare to install a final beam in a topping off ceremony to mark the structural height of 580 meters with 125 floors in Shanghai, China. According to Chinese media, the Shanghai Tower in the city's Pudong district will eventually reach a height of  632 meters (2,073 feet) when completed next year with its antenna installed. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT
The top of Shanghai Tower (AP Photo)
Chinese workers take photos in front of the artist rendition of Chinas tallest building, the Shanghai Tower,  in the Lujiazui Financial District in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 2 Aug 2013.

A topping-out ceremony was held Saturday for Chinas tallest building in the financial hub of Shanghai when the final beam was hoisted to the top of the skyscraper and installed in a flag-waving ritual. At 632 meters (2,073 feet), the Shanghai Tower in the citys Pudong district is the worlds second-tallest building, surpassed only by Dubais Burj Khalifa, which soars 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). After the ceremony, workers will move onto the buildings interior construction. Once it is completed next year, the Shanghai Tower will have retail and office space, a luxury hotel and likely a museum. Designed by U.S. architectural firm Gensler, the glass-and-steel, 121-story building takes on a transparent and spiral form.
(AP Photo)
Chinese migrant workers and media staff stand on the top of the topped-out Shanghai Tower in the Lujiazui Financial District in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 3 August 2013.

Work on the main structure of the worlds second tallest skyscraper was completed on Saturday (3 August 2013), as the final beam was placed on the Shanghai Tower. A crane placed the steel beam 580 meters (1,900 feet) above the ground in Shanghai, Chinas commercial hub, as the building formally overtook Taiwans 509 meter tall Taipei 101 building to become the highest tower in Asia. Globally it is second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 830 meters. The tower, which costs an estimated $14.8 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), will reach over 630 meters when it is finally finished.
(AP Photo)
A man watches a construction crane lift a piece of steel at the Shanghai Tower (R) at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai January 21, 2013. China's recovery from its longest slowdown in growth since the global financial crisis is being driven by the two forces posing the biggest risks to the economy's increasingly urgent need to rebalance - investment and property. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION) - RTR3CQBZ
Shanghai Tower (right). (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
A waitress sleeps as she take a break at a restaurant located in the Pudong financial district of Shanghai July 8, 2013. China's resolve to revamp its economy for the long-term good will be tested this month when a slew of data show growth is grinding towards a 23-year low, with no recovery in sight.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT) - RTX11GPU
A waitress naps at a restaurant overlooking Shanghai’s financial district. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)
People walk along a busy street at Pudong financial district in Shanghai, March 27, 2013. China's government said on Wednesday it would unveil new measures to further liberalise interest rate and exchange rate markets this year to stabilise and sustain economic growth. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTXXZPB
Commuters pass Shanghai Tower in the evening. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
A view of Shanghai's skyscrapers Oriental Pearl Tower (L), Shanghai Tower (under construction), Jin Mao Tower (2nd R) and the Shanghai World Financial Center (R) are seen during a hazy day in the Shanghai financial district May 12, 2013. China's steel demand typically improved in April and May due to a pickup in manufacturing and construction activities after the end of the winter season, but a patchy economic recovery has cast a shadow on demand this year. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTXZJL9
The skyline of Shanghai’s financial district. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
home our picks popular latest obsessions search