Contemporary Architecture

Marshall Strabala – Shanghai Tower


  • 1961 – Born in Seattle, U.S.
  • 1988 – Graduated from Harvard University
  • 1988 – Joined Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), Chicago
  • 1996 – Joined Gensler global architectural firm as Director of  Design


  • Burnham Prize of Chicago Architecture Club
  • American Institute of Architect Honor Awards (2004, 2005)
  • ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering Awards (1998, 1999)
  • USITT Architecture Award (2001).


  • A “Performance Designer”
  • Rather than clinging to a particular style, Strabala views his designs more in terms of their function.
  • “Style is an odd thing, mostly a category of time. I seek a timelessness in all my projects. I want to create a feeling of permanence over a particular style”.
  • He looks at every project with fresh eyes and a point of view that will allow constant discovery and continued improvement.
  • Every element of the building needs to perform two purposes. It integrates art and science, aesthetics and function, technology and beauty and knowledge and perception.“
  • There may be newer and faster computer tools and modeling systems to visualize building designs, but the ultimate tool that will create buildings is the human mind.
  • Got inspired by small Japanese and Korean architects, including Tadao Ando of Japan.


  • Shanghai Tower, a 632-meter super-tall office, residential and retail tower in Shanghai, China, scheduled for completion in 2014.
  • Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building at 808-meters
  • Nanjing Greenland Financial Center, a 420-meter office, hotel retail and apartment complex to be completed in 2009.
  • Besides Strabala has designed more than 50 prominent buildings worldwide

Case Study – Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China, 2008-2014

  • Marshall Strabala got this project for his firm GENSLER after a 21-month-long competition ended in
  • March 2008, when he beat out Foster + Partners, Kohn Pederson Fox, and even his old firm, SOM.
  • 632 metres (2,073 ft), have 128 stories, and contain an area of 380,000 m2.
  • It will be the tallest building in China and is slated to be the second tallest in the world.
  • Tower features office space, luxury residences, a high-end hotel, retail space, restaurants and a public observatory.
  • Tower features a soft triangular shape, the tower rotates as it goes skyward and concludes with an open-top design.
  • As the shape rises, a “strike” or open notch curves up and around the building which is an engineering feature to control the wind up and away from the building.
  • Uses 32 – 35% less structural materials ( concrete and steel ) than any other conventional buildings. It results in savings of 58million US$

Double skin Building:

With the double skin , the building will function like a thermos bottle.

This allows it to

  • harvest and use daylight,
  • reduce artificial lighting to a minimum,
  • increase the insulation of the building’s interior
  • reduce energy consumption and energy costs.“

The development will be separated into eight distinct bioclimatic zones, with each having its own atrium, lush gardens, indoor air controls and panoramic 360° views of city.

The building will be situated within a 10,000 sqm open green space that will become both a public park and the front entry to the tower.


  • Innovative skin technology is one of many sustainable design and renewable energy systems in the tower.
  • The spiral shape facilitates vortex shedding and creates an asymmetrical surface to reduce wind loads on the building by 24%. reducing the structural load on the building.
  • The building’s spiraling parapet collects rainwater, used for the tower’s HVAC systems.
  • Wind turbines located directly beneath the parapet generate on-site power. Thus energy consumption of building is 35-40 % less than any other conventional building.
  • 40% less water consumptioni.e. they save 675 million L/ annum =245 Olympic size swimming pools

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16 thoughts on “Marshall Strabala – Shanghai Tower”

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  8. Marshall Strabala, just finished speaking at the 2 day UltraHighrise Building Summit in Shanghai. His topic on flexibility and focus was very motivating to all who are interested in design of supertall architecture. He had a few comments on clients and engineers, which are worth reading. Check out Ultra highrise Building summitt March 22-23, 2011 on internet.


  9. I think your website gets response because you have done a good job at relaying contemporary information on many topics, one of which is Marshall Strabala’s style of design and thinking and accomplishments.
    Strabala has opened an international architecture practice with offices in Shanghai, Seoul, and Chicago named 2Define Architecture.
    Thanks for following his work and guess what, he’s hiring in his office.


  10. check out You Tube video August 3, 2012 of Marshall Strabala interviewed in English by Chinese tv at the official ceremony of glass curtain wall panel installation of Shanghai Tower. Strabala is on site and works weekly on the project until 2014 completion as the designer of the project, and chief architect. He has some very cool other projects as well, Yingkou Convention and Exhibition in progress for starters.


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