Shanghai, A Guide To An Architectural City

Shanghai is noted for having more Art Deco buildings than any other city, including László Hudec’s Park Hotel, which is not on our list but will be added in a future guide. Like many cities in China, Shanghai’s rapid growth has meant a boon in contemporary architecture styles. We put together a list of 12 modern/contemporary buildings that we feel provides a good starting point. It is far from complete. There are dozens of other great buildings that are not our list, and we are looking to add to the list in the near future. Please add your favorites in the comment section below so we can add them on the second go around.

1. Shanghai Oriental Sports Center / gmp architekten

The sports complex was designed and built by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), who won the competitive bidding in 2008, and constructed it in under two and a half years. It consists of a hall stadium for several sports and cultural events, a natatorium (swimming hall), an outdoor swimming pool and a media centre. In keeping with a sustainable urban development policy, the SOSC was built on former industrial brownfield land along the Huangpu River. The individual venues are designed so that after the Swimming Championships, they can be used for a variety of other purposes.

Architects: gmp architekten
Location: Shanghai, China
Design: Meinhard von Gerkan and Nikolaus Goetze with Magdalene Weiss
Project Leader: Chen Ying
Team: Jan Blasko, Lü Cha, Lü Miao, Jörn Ortmann, Sun Gaoyang, Yan Lüji, Jin Zhan, Fang Hua, Martin Friedrich, Fu Chen, Ilse Gull, Kong Rui, Lin Yi, Katrin Löser, Ren Yunping, Alexander Schober, Nina Svensson, Tian Jinghai, Zhang Yan, Zhou Yunkai, Zhu Honghao
Project Year: 2011
Client: Shanghai Administration of Sports

2. Shanghai Museum of Glass / Logon Architecture

Architects: logon |
Location: Shanghai, China
Project area: 29,612 sqm

Located in Shanghai’s Baoshan District, this former glass manufacturing site covers a total area of 29,612sqm including thirty existing buildings varying in age and scale. logon developed the entire 20 year strategic development plan renaming the site to G+ Glass Theme Park (Glass, Art, Research and Technology Park). Phase one includes the Shanghai Museum of Glass and a hot glass show covering a total site area of 5,785sqm.

3. Shanghai Houtan Park / Turenscape

Built on a brownfield of a former industrial site, Houtan Park is a regenerative living landscape on Shanghai’s Huangpu riverfront. The park’s constructed wetland, ecological flood control, reclaimed industrial structures and materials, and urban agriculture are integral components of an overall restorative design strategy to treat polluted river water and recover the degraded waterfront in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Landscape Architect: Turenscape (Beijing Turen Design Institute)
Location: Shanghai, 2010 Shanghai Expo Park, China
Project Area: 14 hectares
Project Year 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Turenscape

4. SPSI Art Museum / Wang Yan

Architects: Wang Yan
Location: Shanghai, China
Project area: 3,000 sqm
Project year: 2008 – 2010

SPSI Art Museum is located at Shanghai Changning District, No.111 Jinzhu Road, extended from the structure of original service building of Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute. On 19th October 2010, the museum has finished its construction and had the first exhibition —- Modern Art Works Marsaille.

5. Shanghai World Financial Centre / KPF

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There are three observation decks in Shanghai World Financial Center. The height of the lowest observation deck (观光大厅) is 423 m (1,388 ft), on the 94th floor, the second is 439 m (1,440 ft) high, on the 97th floor, named “Observatory Bridge” (观光天桥), and the highest (观光天阁) is 474 m (1,555 ft) high, on the 100th floor. Admission fees range from RMB100 (US$15.40) for the 94th floor only, to RMB150 (US$23.10) for all three observation decks.

6. The Oriental Pearl Tower / Shanghai Modern Architectural Design Co. Ltd.

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It was designed Mr. West. Principal designers are Jiang Huan Chen, Lin Benlin and Zhang Xiulin. Construction began in 1990 and the tower was completed in 1994. At 468 m (1,535 feet) high, it was the tallest structure in China from 1994–2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center. It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.

7. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum/ RTKL with Shanghai Modern Design Group

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The museum covers an area of 68,000 square metres, a floor space of 98,000 square metres and an exhibition space of 65,500 square metres with planned visiting flow of 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 visitors per year and investment of RMB 1.755 billion Yuan. As of July 2010 the museum will have attracted over 23,000,000 visitors making it one of China’s most visited modern museums.

8. Jin Mao Tower / SOM (Adrian Smith)

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The building has 3 main entrances to the lobby, two for the office portion and one for the hotel. Additionally, a 6-story podium at the tower base houses the Hyatt’s conference and banquet facilities (first two floors) as well as a shopping mall, restaurants and nightclubs such as the hotel’s “Pu-J’s” on the third floor.

The 3-story basement has a food court, express elevators to the observation deck, and 600 vehicle and 7,500 bicycle parking spaces below. Above, 61elevators (supplied by Mitsubishi) and 19 escalators carry visitors throughout the building.

The lower 50 floors (in the first 4 segments of the tower) are made up of 123,000 m² of offices, divided into 5 elevator zones (3-6, 7-17, 18-29, 30-40, and 41-50). Office spaces are open-plan (column-free) with a floor-to-floor gross height of 4.0 m, net height 2.7 m. Levels 51 and 52 are mechanical floors, accessible only by service elevators.

9. Giant Interactive Group Corporate Headquarters / Morphosis Architects

Architects: Morphosis Architects
Location: Shanghai, China
Client: Giant Interactive Group
Project area: 253,300 sqm
Project year: 2006 – 2010

The Giant Campus project is a compact village that accommodates diverse functions in a flexible framework of forms that move in and out of a folded landscape plane. Situated amid existing canals and a new man made lake, the undulating office building interacts with an augmented ground plane, joining architecture to landscape and environment to site. The East Campus office building contains three zones: open, non-hierarchical office space; private offices, and executive suites, which cantilever dramatically over the lake.

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10. Apple Store / Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

11. Quingpu Pedestrian Bridge / CA-DESIGN


 Architects: CA-DESIGN / Architecture and Urban Planning
Location: Quingpu, Shanghai, China
Director in charge: Pedro Pablo Arroyo Alba
Collaborators: Yki Fo (project leader), Chen Junquan, Yang Yixiu, Wang Fan, Wang Xin, Pablo Sendra Fernández, Eva Jiménez del Río, Luo Wei.
Client: Shanghai Qingpu New City Construction Development (Group) Co. Ltd.
Engineering: Bridge Structures Department of Tongji University
Contractor: Shanghai Greenland Construction (Group) Co. Ltd.
Project year: 2004-2008
Site Area: 1,000 sqm

Learning from the bridges of the great water town of ZhuJiaJiao, or those from the delicate gardens in Suzhou, we decided to link both sides of the 50 meters wide river with a bent path. The bent axis responds to different access conditions and visually adapts to the surroundings. Our strategy of borrowing from local historical references and other variables of the site, together with the objective of revealing the structural performance of the bridge, will generate the final form of the project.

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12. Shanghai Museum / Xing Tonghe

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Construction of the current building started in August 1993. It was inaugurated on October 12, 1996. It is 29.5 meters high with five floors, covering a total area of 39,200 m². Designed by local architect Xing Tonghe, the new museum building is designed in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called ading. It is said that the inspiration for the design was specifically provided by the Da Ke Ding, now on exhibit in the museum. The building has a round top and a square base, symbolizing the ancient Chinese perception of the world as “round sky, square earth”.


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