November 21, 2016

With 41 supertall buildings already completed in China and another 52 under construction, the country is leading the charge when it comes to these impressive structures. In fact, 50 percent of all supertall buildings in Asia are located in China including the newly opened Shanghai Tower, which is the world’s tallest building by highest usable floor.

While Shanghai has traditionally been the star of China’s supertall scene, the Pearl River Delta Region is also playing a prominent role in the development of larger than life buildings. The growing importance of these 300-plus metre-tall building in southern China is the biggest reason for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) deciding to hold their most recent international conference in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in October 2016.

“Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong are all cities within the Pearl River Delta Region that have a number of supertall buildings. A total of 30 percent of supertall buildings completed or under construction in China are located in this region,” Samuel So, Director of Super Tall Building Management Services, Greater China, JLL, said. “New projects in Shenzhen, including the Kingkey 100 (441 meters), Ping An Finance Center (600 meters) and Kingkey’s planned 739 meter building, have helped put the city and region on the supertall map.”

What is a ‘supertall’ and why are they different?

According to the new CTBUH tiered classification system, tall buildings are those over 100 meters in height while supertall buildings stand at 300 meters and above, and megatall buildings, like Shanghai Tower, at or above 600 meters.

Supertall buildings are designed and built primarily for commercial use, however, most also have mixed-use spaces such as retail shops, food and beverage outlets, observation decks and community areas. Not only do these generate revenue for the building owner, but they also help establish a connection between the city and its residents.

“The supertall buildings in Chinese cities are usually landmarks to attract citizens and even tourists while bringing economic benefits to the area concerned,”

So explained. “The asset itself is a huge investment so needs to bring economic benefit to the owners after it’s built. But there is more to supertall buildings than traditional monetary returns.”

The place making aspects of supertall buildings has made it difficult to gauge their true value by traditional means. The sharing of space within the building to promote interaction and social cohesion, similar to parks and gardens, adds value that cannot be measured by traditional metrics.

The unique challenges of managing a supertall building

Much like trying to find the value of a supertall building, managing one presents a number of unique challenges not faced by tall buildings or traditional mixed-use developments. Just the sheer number and diversity of people using the building on a daily basis is far greater and the needs of each group of visitors must be considered by building management.

One of the most effective ways to manage a supertall building is to form a property management partnership consisting of owners, occupiers and a property manager. This brings together a wide-range of key interests who can then develop, or support the development of, a widely-adopted vision and strategy for building.

“This management partnership must have the vision and foresight to create a strategy for the facility that makes it welcoming to all and worth visiting regardless of a person’s connection to the building,” says So.


Samuel So

Director of Super Tall Building Management Services, Greater China, JLL

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