Ping An International Finance Centre, disappearing into the clouds of Shenzhen’s stormy heavens, is just the latest, (almost) greatest in the Middle Kingdom’s super-tall skyline. The second tallest tower in China serves the country’s second largest insurance company, rising 115 floors and 599 meters into the sky. A needle would have put it above the Shanghai Tower, but that would have pierced the paths of passing planes and was wisely scrapped. Now a gleaming pyramid crowns the tower.
Construction finished in 2016, but the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat waited until 2017 to certify it as fourth tallest in the world. It was the second year in a row that Shenzhen had the tallest new building (and the most super-talls), in a building boom that sees China with over half the world’s new skyscrapers. Along with the Shanghai Tower, Guangzhou CTF Finance Center, Shanghai World Financial Center and Hong Kong’s International Commerce Center, five of the world’s 10 tallest buildings are Chinese.
But though its American architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, designed it to retain its sheen in the face of sea-born storms – thanks to a streamlined shape deflecting winds by 35 percent and a 1,700-ton Stainless Steel frame (the world’s heaviest) that resists corrosion and disperses lightning strikes – it may be China’s hunger for height that knocks Ping An off its pedestal. Already there are plans for a Suzhou Zhongnan Center (729 meters) and an unnamed super-tall in Shenzhen’s Luohu District (739 meters) that will dwarf our giant.
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