Jinan, Shandong, China
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
With a distinctive diagrid structure, grand public plaza, and connections to nature, this set of towers blends commercial and civic space at the heart of Guangzhou’s rapidly developing Pazhou business district.
For the headquarters of its new cloud technology company, the construction equipment manufacturing company Sany engaged SOM to make a bold architectural statement. The two towers of the complex are united by a striking structural design: an external system of five-story steel columns rising in a diamond grid pattern. The structural design is as beautiful as it is efficient—it allows the floors to be suspended from the structure, eliminating the need for cumbersome interior columns. Landscaped terraces punctuate the towers at five-floor intervals.
Located at the center of Guangzhou’s Pazhou business district, the towers are envisioned as an emblem for the company’s growth and innovation. The design team gave just as much attention to the space surrounding the towers. Rather than a typical solid podium base, an elevated podium bridges the two buildings, allowing the ground between them to become an inviting public plaza and gardens. In addition to escalators, stairs, and a public elevator that connects to a citywide system of covered walkways, visitors can reach the elevated podium via a pedestrian bridge from an adjacent park.
A mix of atmospheres and experiences gives a distinct character to each part of the development, creating a sense of progression from the shaded public plaza and retail areas to the commercial office spaces above. A central courtyard opening in the elevated podium illuminates the sheltered areas of the plaza, while dimpled aluminum paneling on its soffit reflects light. Two transparent lobbies, enclosed in laminated self-supporting glass, frame the plaza to create a unifying ground floor experience as visitors encounter the robust tower structural columns, cast aluminum panels, local stone, and ribbed terrazzo as they travel to office floors above.
Visitors can meander through outdoor stairways to the podium above to access shops, eateries and views of the park and Pearl River beyond. Native landscaping permeates through the base of the towers, continuing up to the podium and wrap-around balconies above. The multi-story elevated podium features a cafeteria, restaurants, health club, meeting rooms, and public exhibition spaces.
The design is sensitive to Pazhou’s climate, landscape, and context, integrating nature in order to create a more inviting and connected workplace. Passive strategies include natural ventilation from operable vents, sliding glass terrace doors, perforated metal ceilings that accommodate for air intake and exhaust, and inward-sloping facade modules which shade the building.
With its distinctive structural design, self-shading facades, and terraces landscaped with regional flora, the design powerfully expresses Sany’s mission in construction, technology, and growth.
A variety of seasonal plantings native to the humid, subtropical climate mark the entry. With the development located in a typhoon zone, the design team selected trees with stronger root systems to survive severe weather events. The tree-planted terraces at every fifth floor shade the office interiors and reduce solar radiation on the facade. These landscaped zones provide accessible, communal outdoor spaces for all to enjoy.
Because Guangzhou is located in a region that experiences seismic activity and strong winds, the design and engineering team focused on creating a resilient, ductile, and efficient structure to meet these load demands. The result is a diagrid system that provides an exceptional degree of stiffness and strength for a building of this height. Unique friction nodes introduce ductility into the diagrid system, allowing the two towers to dissipate energy during seismic events.
Having evaluated and tested a range of structural systems, this ductile diagrid structure shows a better performance—less deformation, thus less damage to the structure—during major earthquake events. The design minimizes moment connections, which makes the structure more efficient and easy to build. Multi-story trusses within the elevated podium span 65 meters to connect the two towers, creating the sheltered, public open space.