Reaching to the sky: China’s tallest towers

 —  Article by Beelin Ang

Fifteen years ago, China was only a land of few skyscrapers. Fast-forward to today and it now boasts nine of the world’s top 20 current and future tallest buildings – more than any other country.

Propelled by economic expansion, competition between cities to put themselves on the map and a desire to maximize land value, ‘supertalls’ (over 300 metres) and ‘megatalls’ (over 600 metres) are high on the development agenda.

“The second and third tier cities are playing catch up when it comes to developing landmark buildings to reflect the level of its political, economic and social influence,” says Samuel So, director of super tall building management services, JLL Greater China.

While construction costs can be high, the gain can be worth it. These ‘vertical villages’ not only generate investment opportunities, but also create value for the surrounding areas, helping drive sales and rental prices.

Below are some of the country’s latest and upcoming skyscraper ‘talls’.


Guangzhou International Finance Centre (GZIFC)

Guangzhou (Southern China)
432 metres, 103 storeys

Completed in 2010, the GZIFC is situated in the Tianhe District of Guangzhou overlooking the Pearl River Delta, the Central Business District and the old city centre. It is a business landmark, comprising a five-star Four Seasons Hotel, Grade-A offices, serviced apartments, conference facilities and retail space. Designed and built to be low-carbon and sustainable, one of its most notable features is its vast light-filled atrium which is the same height as St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

“Unlike the past office building design, there is a trend for the Supertall Building (STB) becoming multi-functional for office, hotel, shopping arcade, observation deck, car parking,” says So.



Shenzhen (Southern China)
441.8 metres, 100 storeys

This LEED Gold-certified property is located on the border of Shenzhen’s business and residential districts with views over the city and neighbouring Lizhi Park. Completed in 2011, it comprises a six-star St Regis Hotel, serviced apartments, Grade-A offices, and a sky garden with restaurants. The building was designed to act as a unique transit hub, reducing urban sprawl and reliance on public transport in the area.


Dalian Greenland Centre

Dalian (Northern China)
518 metres, 88 storeys

Also known as the Greenland Plaza, this supertall is set to be completed in 2019. Situated in the Donggang Business District, it is right next to the Dalian International Conference Centre where the summer World Economic Davos Forum was held. This mixed-use development will feature hotels, Grade-A offices, retail space and luxury residential apartments overlooking the Yellow Sea. It’s touted as an anchor for future development in the surrounding area.


China Zun

Beijing (Capital City)
528 metres, 108 storeys

Currently under construction in the Chaoyang District, this mixed-use property is designed to be the flagship building of Beijing’s planned 30-hectare central business district core. Alongside offering a range of office, retail and amusement space, it will be the headquarters for CITIC Group and CITIC Bank.

“There is a growing number of using the supertall building as Chinese big corporate headquarters to show off their economic and social capabilities,” says So.

With a design inspired by an ancient Chinese vessel, the ‘zun’, it is set to be the tallest skyscraper in China’s capital city when completed in 2018. LEED Gold certification is also anticipated.


Tianyu Tower

Nanning (Southern China)
528 metres, 109 storeys

Officially named ASEAN Tower, this composite property is situated in Nanning’s Wuxiang New Zone, near the Vietnam border – a strategic location facing the ASEAN countries and an important silk route stop. Featuring Grade-A offices, hotel and retail space, it is set to be the tallest and most iconic landmark of the city upon its completion in 2021.

ping an international finance centre

Ping An International Finance Centre

Shenzhen (Southern China)
600 metres, 118 storeys

Situated in Shenzhen’s Futian District, this LEED Gold-certified building was completed in 2016 and is adorned by the largest stainless corrosion-resistant façade in the world to date. The mixed-use supertall comprises office space, retail and conference facilities and a public observation deck.

With Shenzhen ranking as one of the world’s fastest growing property markets, the Ping An tower is connected to the neighbouring commercial and residential properties and the Pearl River Delta’s high-speed rail corridor.


Shanghai Tower
632 metres, 127 storeys

The world’s second-tallest building had a soft opening in April 2016. This Gensler-designed LEED Platinum building is considered the world’s greenest skyscraper. Situated in the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone on a bend of the Huangpu River, it is a mixed-used property comprising the five-star Shanghai J-Hotel, Grade-A offices, a retail podium, a conference centre and a public observation deck. Offering a unique design, the building is a spiral shape with a 120-degree twist. It is organised into nine vertical ‘neighbourhoods’ which rise from individual light-filled garden atriums.

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