Shenzen, China is a seemingly evergrowing metropolis located on the border between Hong Kong and Guangdong and the greater Pearl River Delta megalopolis. Its meteoric rise over the last few decades has brought works from firms across the globe, ranging from Zaha Hadid Architects to Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, and even public art from Sam Jacob Studio. So perhaps it is fitting that Morphosis’s first completed, and recently occupied, supertall project, Hanking Center Tower, is located smack dab in the thick of it. In the Los Angeles-based firm’s typical fashion, the building includes a couple of technical feats to boot.
The 984-foot-tall glaze-heavy tower rises from an undulating four-story retail podium, that, through the use of folds, blends commercial and public space within the same volume. A tapered atrium located within the podium also pours daylight into the retail spaces that extend below grade. A public plaza and dimensional hardscape stands envelop the podium and are intended to both create a new neighborhood marker and draw the public into the tower.
Notably, Hanking Center Tower is supported by a detached-core configuration that facilitates completely clear floor plates and unobstructed 270-degree views, a programmatic and structural move that Morphosis founding partner Thom Mayne described in a press release as “the delamination between the circulation core and the office spaces within the tower generates a threshold, an intensification of the urban landscape as part of the day-to-day.”
Gargantuan steel mega-braces and vertiginous glass sky bridges stitch the tower and detached-core across the approximately 35-foot gap in a forceful display of structural engineering by Chicago-firm Halvorson and Partners (which was acquired by engineering behemoth WSP during the construction process). According to WSP, the tower’s closed-tube columns are linked to the multistory steel modules to resist overturning forces, such as wind load and seismic events, and are attached to the primary tower at select levels. The use of such a system reduced the weight of the structural system, and, in turn, the project’s budget.
And while the project follows Morphosis’s previous failed attempts to drop supertalls in the storied Vals valley of Peter Zumthor lore or in Paris’s dizzying La Defense district, the team is optimistic that their design will withstand the tests of time. “Hanking Center continues the firm’s tradition of creating buildings that reflect the spirit of the cities in which they are located and that are also deeply integrated within its urban fabric,” said Morphosis project director and partner Eui-Sung Yi. “As Shenzhen continues to grow, we are proud to contribute a striking new icon for the city that mirrors its own ambitions.”