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Unveiled> Qintai International Tower
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill design a skyscraper inspired by an ancient Chinese instrument.
Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Qintai International Tower
Architects: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Client: CNTC Hubei Provincial Tobacco Corporation
Location: Wuhan, China
Completion: TBD

Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill are architects who derive their “performance-based design” maxim on both form and function. So it is almost surprising that the two had not previously looked to musical instruments for inspiration before designing their firm’s Qintai International Tower in Wuhan, China.

This new project draws on the elegance of an ancient Chinese stringed instrument called the qin.

The façade of the 814-foot tower bows outward in a pattern resembling the S curve on the qin. That shape promotes self-shading on a building already oriented to minimize harsh sunlight in the subtropical capital of Hubei province in China. With wide exposures facing to the north and south, Qintai offers views of Wuhan’s great bodies of water: Moon Lake and the Hanshui River. That connection will continue on-site with storm water and condensate collection systems that feed a series of pools around the tower’s base.


Qintai will comprise nearly 1.6 million square feet, including a five-star hotel and office space for client CNTC Hubei Provincial Tobacco Corporation and other as-yet-undetermined tenants. A pedestrian bridge will connect the tower to a separate podium structure, containing retail, restaurants, and conference spaces.

“Now the building has matured to have its own specific language tied to a broader environment context while still maintaining the cultural reference of the qin,” Gill said in a statement. “In that sense, it’s an advancement of our firm’s continuing investigation into the relation of architectural form and sustainability.”

Chris Bentley