Anchoring Beijing’s Dawangjing business district, the mixed-use Beijing Greenland Center is a highly sustainable landmark building equidistant from Beijing’s bustling core and the airport. The 260-meter-tall, 55-story tower prioritizes sustainability and efficiency, and is clad in a prismatic trapezoidal glass facade that generates self-shading to enhance the building’s environmental performance.
The design team sought to create an elegant, eye-catching tower by exploring interactions between simple form, light, and shadow. In a response to Beijing’s overcast skies, the tower catches and reflects daylight to enliven the surrounding neighborhood. The tower accommodates multiple programs—Class A office space and serviced apartments—and connects to an attached multi-story retail podium. The tower stacks 178 serviced apartments on top of four office floor zones, organized around a simple rectangular plan with a central core to maximize flexibility. The tower’s striking facade pattern is informed by the bas-relief carving technique: Isosceles trapezoidal modules function as prisms, catching daylight and refracting it to create an interplay of light and shadow. Each face is composed of two vertical, low-E insulated vision glass panels. Two trapezoid types alternate in a regular pattern up the tower’s height, tapering toward the sky or the neighborhood below. The trapezoidal skin increases the building’s performance, providing energy-saving self-shading on all faces.
The design aims to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use and water consumption compared to baseline by utilizing sustainable features such as a Direct Digital Control building automation system, a heat reclaim wheel, variable speed pumps for heating and cooling, and a water-side economizer to utilize evaporative cooling.
Addressing a need for environmentally responsible, mixed-use urban development, Beijing Greenland Center is a highly visible example of how visually striking design can also be highly flexible and sustainable.
A vibrant new neighborhood in Beijing
Beijing Dawangjing is a new neighborhood located on Beijing’s northeast side, halfway between the city’s historic core and Beijing Capital International Airport. The mixed-use development was master planned by SOM to be a walkable, green district that prioritizes quality of life and responsible use of natural resources. Adjacent to the Capital-Airport Freeway and the 5th Ring Road and near the M15 metro, Dawangjing seamlessly integrates with the built environment in Beijing’s Wangjing area and brings new green space, cultural and civic venues, as well as residential, retail, and office options to the growing Beijing neighborhood. Several SOM-designed towers, including the Beijing Greenland Center and a cluster of three towers at Poly International Plaza, anchor the district.
A vision for walkable, green living
The master plan establishes principles and guidelines for the Dawangjing neighborhood that limit environmental impact, and make walking and bicycling both safer and more compelling. A new park is the area’s centerpiece, and incorporates destination amenities like cafes and recreation facilities to encourage interaction and a sense of community. Streets are designed to be as verdant and welcoming as the park, with bike lanes and sidewalks set alongside green features such as bioswales. Pedestrian-scaled commercial and retail bolster an active streetscape, and main office and hotel lobbies are located along pedestrian thoroughfares. Strategies for the massing of buildings emphasize the human scale, and design guidelines recommend the creation of timeless buildings with modulated facades—a long-term approach that focuses on design and planning principles that will endure.
About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world, with an 80-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.