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“Pearl” Will Grace New Financial Center in China

Exterior rendering of the Baoneng Shenyang Global Financial Centre which features a sphere, known as 'the pearl' that will contain an executive club
The taller tower features a dramatic 50 m diameter sphere, known as “the pearl,” that will contain an exclusive executive club. The upper floors of the smaller tower will house a luxury hotel. Courtesy of Atkins/Baoneng Real Estate Development Ltd.

The tallest building in Shenyang, a key industrial center in China, will feature a dramatic, sphere executive club when complete in 2018.

August 27, 2013—Excavation work has begun on the Baoneng Shenyang Global Financial Centre, in Shenyang, China. The large, mixed-use center will feature a large shopping mall and five luxury residential towers, anchored by two iconic office towers.

“The most difficult design challenge is to find the one iconic image among dozens of concepts,” said KY Cheung, the senior design director for Atkins in Asia Pacific, in written comments to Civil Engineering online. Atkins is providing architectural design for the two tall towers of the $1.63 billion mixed-use development.

The project is being developed by Baoneng Real Estate Development Ltd. The 58.5 ha high-profile site is situated in the central business district, overlooking the Nanyun River to the east. The site is near the Liaoning Broadcast and Television Tower, a 305 m tall communication structure built in 1989 that features a dramatic round observation deck and rotating restaurant.

Shenyang has a rich cultural history. The city was settled in 300 BCE, and was home to the Mukden Palace. Now a museum, the palace was home to the emperor during the Qing Dynasty.

The largest of the towers will be 565 m tall, which will make it the tallest structure in the city when complete. The building will contain 111 floors primarily dedicated to business clients from the city’s robust industrial sector. The floors are designed for state of the art office space and the building will also include a large luxury executive club.

The smaller tower is 328 m tall, with 34 floors of office space on the lower floors. The top of the structure will house a 320-room luxury hotel with large banquet and meeting spaces. It will be the only hotel in the city taller than 200 m, and will provide expansive views.

The building will also feature something uncommon: a large office and hotel tower—and facilities that can house automobile showcases. Shenyang is an important city for China’s automobile industry. Chinese automobile manufacturer Brilliance Auto, which built 591,000 passenger vehicles in 2012, has production plants in the city. General Motors and Michelin Tire are other key industrial companies expanding in Shenyang. 

Another exterior rendering of the Baoneng Shenyang Global Financial Centre

The taller tower will be 565 m tall, with a facade of four gently
curving high-performance glazed panels joined by concave slits at
the corners. Courtesy of Atkins/Baoneng Real Estate
Development Ltd.

The larger tower will have a facade comprising four gently curving surfaces joined by concave slits at the corners, Cheung said. “The tower massing takes on the shape of a subtly curved square shaft crowned with an embedded 50 m diameter “pearl” holding [the] exclusive executive club.” The pearl will be designed to provide structural support as well as aesthetic appeal, adding support to the top of the structure. The roof will incorporate a helipad above mechanical equipment rooms.

“The structural framing concept consists of eight structural megacolumns with diagonal braces, a reinforced-concrete central core, and intermediate refuge floor levels with outriggers,” Cheung said. “For speed of construction and strength the megacolumns will be steel box sections with concrete infill. Furthermore the structure of the sphere will help strengthen the top of the tower.”

The massive, gleaming sphere at the top of tower will be the key design focus, Cheung said. “The facade will consist of unitized high-performance glazed panels suitable for both hot summers and the severe winter climate of Shenyang.”

Temperatures vary widely in Shenyang; the average temperature in June is 84.4°F and the average temperature in January is 3° F. Extremes are more pronounced. The record high is 102.7°F. The record low is -27.6°F.

“The towers will have to meet energy codes particularly in this severe climatic zone,” Cheung said. In addition, the area is also considered a grade 7 seismic zone on China’s Liedu Scale. A grade 7 earthquake on the Liedu Scale is characterized by the majority of residents being sufficiently frightened by the event to run outdoors and limited, local damage.

The project is scheduled to be complete in 2018.


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