Citic Tower in Beijing; photo courtesy:  The Skyscraper Center

The 528-meter (1,732 ft) Citic Tower in Beijing was the tallest building completed anywhere in the world this year. It has 108 floors above ground and ranks as the fourth-tallest building in China as well as the eighth-tallest worldwide. CITIC Tower will be the flagship building of Beijing’s comprehensively planned central business district core measuring close to 75 acres.  

The Skyscraper Center maintains the global tall building database for the CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) and reports that the tower’s gently rising and curving form resembles an ancient Chinese ceremonial vessel, called the “zun.” The design concept is that of a transforming shell that gradually bends to create a dramatic form. This concept is also applied to other key elements of the tower, including the entrances, ground-floor lobby, and observation deck. At the base, the tower thrusts into the ground with massive corner supports, while the exterior shell is gently lifted up and stretched forward at the four sides. The design physically extends the lobby outward, forming dynamic drop-off spaces. At the top, the exterior envelope becomes more transparent at the observation deck and allows more visibility to the inner trumpet-shaped business center, which lights up at night, forming a beacon that will be visible throughout the city. 

Compared to a typically straight or tapering supertall tower form, the concave tower profile offers more valuable prime-floor spaces and ample space for window washing, as well as other support systems, at the top of the tower. While the large top poses significant structural challenges, the larger base provides an opportunity for structural balance, formal contrast, and preferred core-to-perimeter distances.

In a city with the highest seismic fortification requirement of the major cities in China, the structural system was particularly sensitive to adjustments in the complex form of the building. Architects and engineers utilized parametric modeling to greatly expedite the design and coordination process to ensure that the design achieved both an iconic form and a solid structural system.

For the 23rd year in a row, China has been the most prolific country worldwide for new skyscrapers with 88 constructed in total, according to The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Overall, 2018 was another strong year for skyscraper construction with 143 buildings 200 meters (660 feet) tall or higher built around the world. The sum of heights of all 2018 skyscraper completions totals 35,246 meters. Putting that into perspective, all of the buildings constructed in 2018 would exceed the length of Manhattan Island if they were laid end-to-end.

Photo Courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates