Landmark China supertall handed to SOM


SOM’s Chicago office has won an international competition to design the 358-metre Greenland Group Suzhou Center, in Wujiang, China.

The project will become the defining visual landmark for both the new Wujiang lakefront development and for the city as a whole, according to the architect.

Ross Wimer, SOM design director, said: “Like a high performance car, the digital modeling of aerodynamics was critical to the shaping of the building. The design team included structural and mechanical engineers from the very beginning and their input helped to define all aspects of the tower.”


The 75-level building is designed to accommodate a complex mixed-use programme including office, service apartments, hotel and retail on a 37,000 m2 site.

Sited prominently along Taihu Lake in the Jiangsu Province of China, the building’s curved, tapered form unifies the office, hotel and residential uses within a single volume.

The tower features a 30-storey tall operable window corresponding to the hotel and residential floors, that helps drive the environmental performance of the development.

Its form is optimised to harness natural forces in and around the site to maximise its performance.

Bill Baker, SOM structural engineering partner, commented: “This unique tower expresses the strength of the building in a way that is both interesting and structurally functional.”

By placing half of the building core programme on each side of the lobby, and interconnecting them with structural steel braces, the combined core is said to be more effective than a typical centre core system while also creating a dramatic tall lobby space within.

Luke Leung, SOM director of sustainable and MEP engineering, added: “The design utilises an atrium as the ‘lung’ of the building to provide ventilation and will incorporate a series of high efficiency measures with the objective to achieve a 60% savings in energy consumption compared to a conventional US high rise and a 60% reduction in potable water use.”

The Greenland Group Suzhou Center is SOM Chicago’s sixth project with the Greenland Group.

The firm’s work began with Zifeng Tower, formerly Nanjing Greenland Financial Center, in Nanjing, China, which was completed in 2009.

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