How a super high-rise puts Chongqing on the map

 —  Article by Natasha Stokes

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“With the first super high-rise in west China, Chongqing is developing a modern look and feel akin to other prominent cities in its homeland and abroad.”

For Danny So, JLL Chongqing’s Managing Director, the rise of the World Financial Centre (WFC) marks the rise of the metropolis. In Chongqing, one of the gateway cities to China’s bustling economy, the new addition to its skyline sets it apart from cities in the west of the country which are yet to build to such heights.

Completed in 2015, the steel-and-glass building stretches 339 meters into the sky. For Chongqing, the design of the WFC is unprecedented.

Its 79 floors are marked for premium offices targeting multinational companies, a luxury retail and restaurants podium, and on the top ten or so floors, the soon-to-open five-star Langham Hotel. A high-speed elevator zips between floors at 8 meters per second. To battle the 40-degree Celsius Chongqing summers and cold, wet winters, the external three-layer glass wall is designed to resist extreme weather and heat.

“The World Financial Centre has changed how local developers approach new buildings,” says So. “Before this, there weren’t many grade A office buildings in Chongqing. Even if the external build looked good, the design and materials used were not in line with the requirements of multinational companies.”

Setting new standards

Now, he notes, the WFC is drawing interest from global brands wanting a China home as Chongqing itself becomes an increasingly modern and desirable city for business and finance.

“This is the first building in Chongqing where the developer has also overseen the interior build. As they have a long-term investment in the building, they have used the highest quality build materials,” So says.

Other Chongqing developers have tended to focus on the external façade of a building, he explains, then sell off the internal development on strata title basis to the highest bidders.

“They wouldn’t invest money in the quality of a building, but after the completion of the WFC and its success, lots of developers are changing that mindset,” So continues.

Local developers are also tuning into holistic property management for new buildings. Where other office and retail complexes may be managed by several different agencies that only perform basic cleaning and security tasks, using a single and professional property management company to oversee an entire building – as with the WFC – can help leaseholders adhere to standards, and help the building maintain its value.

An illustrious past

The site of the WFC has a storied past in the wartime years. One of its best-known occupiers is the Queen’s Restaurant of the 1930s, where the wealthy and powerful would rub elbows. “In 1937, just after Japan invaded China, the national government moved the capital from Nanjing to Chongqing, so there were many businessmen and senior government officials in Chongqing,” So says. “They would gather at Queen’s. Back then, Chongqing was as famous and important as Shanghai.”

The WFC isn’t even the first record-height building at this auspicious location – after World War II, Queen’s was demolished and a hotel built on the site. “It was then the tallest building in west China,” says So, “at under 20 floors high.”

Today, the WFC is LEED pre-certified at gold level for sustainability, something that catapults it into the modern world and sets it apart from many other skyscrapers in its fast-growing homeland.

“Sustainability is becoming more important in China,” So says. “The government is proactive in pushing developers to pay attention, and more and more companies are only choosing to work with buildings that follow sustainability standards. China is developing so quickly, we don’t want to sacrifice the future.”

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