Pearl River Tower

Peral River Tower
Pearl River Tower Wind Turbine
Pearl River Tower

The supertall corporate headquarters building of tomorrow: an iconic, high-performance structure that is designed in such harmony with its environment that it has the potential to produce as much energy as it consumes.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2013
  • Design Finish Year 2010
  • Size Site Area: 10,635 square meters Building Height: 309.60 meters Number of Stories: 71 Building Gross Area: 214,000 square meters
  • Rentable Area 108,544.00 sq m
  • Awards
    2012, Excellence in Engineering, ASHRAE - Illinois Chapter 2008, Green, Carbon-Lowering & Environmental Category: Gold Award, Spark Awards 2010, Green Good Design Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2014, Green Good Design Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2015, Award of Excellence: Sustainable Design Category, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2013, Best Tall Building Asia & Australia: Finalist, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) 2014, Architizer A+ Award: Office Building High Rise, Finalist, Architizer 2013, Best Innovative Green Building, MIPIM Asia 2014, Commercial High-Rise Architecture, China, International Property Awards 2014, Award of Excellence: Mechanical Systems Design, AEI Affiliated Engineers 2014, Most Innovative Project: Mechanical Systems Design, American Society Of Civil Engineers
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Platinum, BD+C, Platinum, 1
  • Collaborators
    Highrise Systems, Inc. Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc. (RWDI) Guangzhou Design Institute Swa Group Fortune Consultants Ltd Pivotal Lighting Design Shenzhen Lv-Feng Photography Ltd. Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2013
  • Design Finish Year 2010
  • Size Site Area: 10,635 square meters Building Height: 309.60 meters Number of Stories: 71 Building Gross Area: 214,000 square meters
  • Rentable Area 108,544.00 sq m
  • Awards
    2012, Excellence in Engineering, ASHRAE - Illinois Chapter 2008, Green, Carbon-Lowering & Environmental Category: Gold Award, Spark Awards 2010, Green Good Design Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2014, Green Good Design Award, Chicago Athenaeum 2015, Award of Excellence: Sustainable Design Category, Structural Engineers Association of Northern California 2013, Best Tall Building Asia & Australia: Finalist, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) 2014, Architizer A+ Award: Office Building High Rise, Finalist, Architizer 2013, Best Innovative Green Building, MIPIM Asia 2014, Commercial High-Rise Architecture, China, International Property Awards 2014, Award of Excellence: Mechanical Systems Design, AEI Affiliated Engineers 2014, Most Innovative Project: Mechanical Systems Design, American Society Of Civil Engineers
  • Sustainability Certifications LEED BD+C NC (New Construction) Platinum, BD+C, Platinum, 1
  • Collaborators
    Highrise Systems, Inc. Rowan Williams Davies & Irwin Inc. (RWDI) Guangzhou Design Institute Swa Group Fortune Consultants Ltd Pivotal Lighting Design Shenzhen Lv-Feng Photography Ltd. Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc

Aiming high

This aerodynamic 71-story tower in Guangzhou’s Tianhe District is the result of careful site research that incorporated the latest green technology and engineering advancements in order to harvest wind and solar energy. Awarded the project through a design competition, SOM’s team set out to create one of the world’s most energy-efficient skyscrapers.

Pearl River Tower
Pearl River Tower © Tim Griffith
Pearl River Tower
Pearl River Tower © Tim Griffith

Powered by the environment

The result is the largest radiant-cooled office building and most energy efficient super-tall building in the world, upon its completion. Starting with a double-floor lobby with a fritted glass ceiling and suspended metal panels, five floors of amenities lead to four zones of office floors. The tower’s curvilinear form and orientation capture and funnel prevailing winds into a pair of openings at each mechanical floor, where turbines generate energy for the building. With climate control systems that require less ductwork than the typical tower, the design team was able to add five additional floors to the tower. Solar panels, a double-skin curtain wall, a chilled ceiling system, under-floor air ventilation, and daylight harvesting helped the tower achieve energy savings and reduce dependency on the city’s electrical grid. Other helpful features include a climate control system that manages the city’s humid summers and a radiant ceiling made of metal panels with daylight-responsive LED lighting. The double-skin curtain wall has enclosed, automated blinds that absorb outside sound and are less prone to air leakage.

Powered by the environment

An extra-sustainable design

Driven to create one of the world’s most energy-efficient skyscrapers, SOM incorporated the latest sustainable technology and engineering know-how into its design of the 309-meter-tall Pearl River Tower. Inside and out, the design embodies the idea of humankind existing in harmony with the environment while significantly improving energy efficiency and comfort.


Purposefully sleek

The tower’s aerodynamic form was developed through a careful understanding of solar and wind patterns around the site. The tower’s sculpted body directs wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors, where traveling winds push turbines that generate energy for the building. The design optimizes the solar path, utilizing the sun to the building’s advantage while controlling solar loads. Triple-glazed facades with exterior blinds are located on the east and west elevations, and internally ventilated double-skin facades are located on the north and south. Both incorporate automated blinds, which respond to sun exposure throughout the day and greatly contribute to the building’s energy efficiency. Return air is routed through the cavity of the double-layer curtain wall, increasing in temperature as it travels upward to mechanical floors. This hot, dry air then serves as an energy source while dehumidifying the outside air.


Made for comfort

Inside, a radiant cooling system delivers sensible cooling to the space through radiation heat transfer. Dedicated Outside Air System (DOAS) is decoupled with the radiant ceiling to promote the highest levels of human comfort and indoor air quality while addressing ventilation issues.

The design of Pearl River Tower significantly reduces the amount of energy required to operate the building’s infrastructure. Energy consumption is reduced by maximizing natural daylight, reducing solar gain in air conditioned spaces, retaining rainwater for gray-water usage, and by utilizing solar gain for the building’s hot water supply. The office tower is chilled by a combination of stack venting, radiant panel cooling and chilled beams, and solar collectors integrated into the façades transform the sun’s energy to usable AC current. With these measures, Pearl River Tower represents the new benchmark in corporate office building design – a new skyscraper for a new age.

Pearl River Tower
Pearl River Tower © Tim Griffith
Pearl River Tower Lobby
Pearl River Tower Lobby © Si-ye Zhang

Structurally efficient design

This strategy also has a structural advantage: the building faces the prevailing winds and uses them to relieve the structural burdens imposed by high-wind pressures. In effect, wind forces are so well managed that they become “invisible braces” to help fortify the building. Other integrated sustainable elements include solar panels, a double-skin curtain wall, a chilled ceiling system, under-floor ventilation, and daylight harvesting, all of which contribute to the building’s energy efficiency.

Pearl River Tower
Pearl River Tower © SOM
Pearl River Tower
Pearl River Tower © SOM

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