Shanghai tower named year's best skyscraper

Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:04pm EST
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By Andrew Stern

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Shanghai World Financial Center, the world's second-tallest building that some say resembles an elegant bottle opener, was named on Thursday by architects as the best skyscraper completed this year.

"The simplicity of its form as well as its size dramatizes the idea of the skyscraper," said Carol Willis of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international group of architects and engineers.

The Shanghai tower was design by architectural firm Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, which was founded in New York and has offices worldwide.

Architect Tim Johnson, who led the council's selection committee, cited the building's innovative structural design. Steel trusses gird against the forces of wind and earthquake and "made the building lighter, made it use less steel, and contributed to its sustainability," he said in an interview.

The tower's tapered form creates the impression it is dissolving into the heavens, he added.

The Council on Tall Buildings is the body that determines the world's tallest building -- a designation that seems to jump around the globe and will soon shift to Dubai.

Willis, who heads New York's Skyscraper Museum, said there are periodic predictions that the skyscraper is dead but super-tall buildings are back in vogue -- especially across Asia and the oil-rich Middle East and Russia.

Signature skyscrapers have become a tool for cities like Dubai, Moscow, and Shanghai to showcase themselves as global financial centers and provide a comfort zone for executives, Willis said. The towers in Dubai project an image of modernity for the desert capital.   Continued...

<p>Shanghai World Financial Centre building is pictured in Shanghai August 29, 2008. REUTERS/Aly Song</p>