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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