A nearly 1,000-foot, mixed-use tower was recently completed in Guangzhou, the third largest Chinese city behind Beijing and Shanghai, about 75 miles northwest of Hong Kong. Angular canted corner walls break up the massing of the otherwise boxy tower, providing specific views out into the city. While the northwest corner provides good views 250 feet above neighbouring buildings, the northeast corner is best viewed only 100-feet high.
A nearly 14-foot-high reinforced concrete floor-to-floor spacing accommodates a 10-foot clear ceiling. The exterior wall is a unitised curtain wall system. Operable ventilation for occupant comfort is incorporated into the system. The glass is an insulated low-e assembly with an aluminium mullion system. At nighttime, the glass can be “grazed” by LED’s which allows for the building to be illuminated to the exterior without introducing light to the interior space. During the day, the dark frit from the interior is nearly imperceptible when looking outward to the exterior.
A gradient of panellised stainless steel panels tapers into the curtain wall glazing. The architects say this composition is an expression of the gravitational quality of the tower and a response to the stacked program of the building. By utilising opaque panels at the base of the tower, the shell of the building is responsive to a connective infrastructure of bridges and tunnels tapping into the building to support retail use. As stainless panels taper in width, their height and vertical spacing remains constant. Horizontal coursing slightly overlap at spandrel panels, which assume a unique, but repetitive, geometry. The composition allows for a more standardised view glass unit on each floor.
De Santis says the ability of this project to cater to both a pedestrian and urban scale is particularly successful, and a good learning lesson for future tower projects. “The sense of intimacy we were able to achieve for the arrival sequence of the hotel. 300-meter (984-foot) tall towers have a big impact on your surroundings, and to get a level of intimacy means that you are able to incorporate an interesting level of detail and material selections. The feel of the space is anything but cold and austere, which is often the case in large tower buildings.” De Santis explains the Hyatt hotel brand prides itself on this level of intimacy. “It’s less about grand ballrooms and lobby spaces, and more about producing warmth and a human scale.” This triggered a change of material at the hotel drop off point. A dark anodised steel and Chinese screens in the ceiling pair with a simple natural stone that washes the entire space in a natural, light-toned coloration. This provides a backdrop for sculptural artwork and provides the basis for unique multi-story spaces “carved” into the tower in the upper floor lobby and lounge spaces. De Santis concludes, “Your tower can have an expression. You can create an intimate environment without losing the expression of its urban gesture.”
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