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Hanking Center Tower

An Experiential Icon for a Boom City

Morphosis

Morphosis founding partner Thom Mayne knows China well but he is still struck by the singular focus on shape in the buildings that compete for attention in every major city. His competition-winning design for the Hanking Center Tower takes a different approach. At 360 m, it is the tallest steel-framed tower in China and an icon for the burgeoning Nanshan district, but it offers much more than first meets the eye. A tapered tier of 60 office floors, each a different size, rises from a five-story retail podium and is braced to a detached service core. The straight shaft plays off the subtle inflections of office floors that are modeled in the bright sunlight, and the structural connections between the two are boldly expressed.
Tenants can select an open floor plate tailored to their specific needs and enjoy panoramic vistas over the city from glass bridges that span the 11-m space between the two towers. Every time they go to the washrooms or the main elevator banks, they are momentarily suspended in space - an agreeable release from work in a cubicle. And in the event of an earthquake or fire, they can await rescue in one of three specially reinforced refuge floors.
For Shenzen, this sophisticated project marks a coming of age. In 1980 a poor fishing village of 30,000 was named China’s first special economic zone, to exploit its strategic location in the Pearl River Delta adjoining Hong Kong. Investment poured in and the population has grown to 12 million, creating a linear metropolis that is a potent symbol of the country’s explosive growth. 
The wealth from high-tech manufacturing made it a showcase for top international architects, and its clusters of high-rise buildings are softened by subtropical plantings and pocket parks. 
As Morphosis partner and project principal Eui-Sung Yi explains: “We did not want to get into silly acrobatics - perfume-bottle shapes as we call them in the office”. Instead,...

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