Shanghai's tallest building plan could be upstaged by New York

by AFP/Benjamin Morgan, Feb 11, 2003 | Destinations: China / Shanghai

Shanghai, Feb 9, 2003 - In the global competition to erect the world's tallest building, it seems New York could upstage Shanghai's grandiose ambitions. A week ago China's thriving eastern metropolis was gearing up to resume construction on what was billed the world's highest skyscraper, surpassing the current title holder, the 452-metre (1,483-foot) Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. But Tuesday, New York officials announced they had selected two finalists to design a redeveloped World Trade Center site, which was decimated September 11, 2001 after it was struck by two hijacked aircraft, killing nearly 2,800 people.

Both proposals incorporate structures that would claim the record for the tallest building on earth. Despite the setback, Japan's Mori Building Co. said it still hoped that its Shanghai World Financial Centre would be the world's highest. "We want to make it so it is the tallest," Mori spokesman Kiyoshi Yoshikawa said. Mori developed blueprints for a 94-storey building lofting 460 metres (1,518 feet), at a cost of 75 billion yen (560 million USD).

Construction on the Shanghai tower began in 1997 but was suspended in the wake of the Asian financial crisis and a then massive property glut in the city. Yoshikawa has declined to release details about a new design for the tower until a press conference set for February 13, but Raijo, a spokesman for Mori's Shanghai-based Forest Overseas Co. subsidiary said the new plans foresaw a 500-metre (1,650-feet) edifice. "We do hope that it (the Shanghai World Financial Centre) will surpass them (the New York designs)," Raijo said. "There are two designs for the World Trade Center and the final decision has not been made."

If the smaller of the two World Trade Center designs is chosen, Shanghai would still be in the running for bragging rights. That design, evoking memories of the fallen twin towers with another pair of twin lattice-work towers embedded with cultural centers, is expected to soar 507 metres (1,665 feet). The other plan, which exposes the scarred footprints of the original site still known as Ground Zero and features a garden-filled spire rising 541 meters (1,776 feet) would be the clear winner, however.

Even if New York reclaims its title as home to the world's tallest building - lost in 1974 with the completion of the Sears Tower in Chicago - the Mori building in Shanghai would still be structurally taller, Yoshikawa claimed, referring to usable public space in a building. At 442 metres (1,450 feet), the Sears Tower was the tallest tower in the world for more than two decades because of its soaring antennae, even though its structural height was much lower. Both new plans for the World Trade Center have rising superstructures to achieve record height but would be shorter, at least structurally.

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