The Lotte World Tower is the crowning jewel of the Seoul skyline and is currently the fifth tallest building in the world. The supertall building opened its doors in 2017 and has a total height of 555.7 meters measured from the base to the architectural top. Among many other functions, the tower is home to the headquarters of the Lotte Group, of which a subsidiary constructed the tower itself. The 123 story tower is a landmark of the Seoul urban scape.
The architectural firm, Kohn Pederson Fox, drew inspiration from traditional Korean crafts such as ceramics, porcelain, filigree for the tower’s tapered form, and intricate roof envelope structure. This top structure itself is a feat of engineering as it is 120 meters high and weighs an estimated 3000 tons and can theoretically withstand an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude. The sleek tapered profile of the building interacts and contrasts with the rugged mountainous topography of the city and its surroundings. The tower is home to a few record-breaking components, including the world’s highest glass-bottomed observation deck, at 500 meters high, and the world’s highest swimming pool, located on the 85th floor. The seam that opens up vertically on the façade of the tower is a subtle gesture that points towards the old center of the city as it unravels moving upwards towards the top of the building. The curtain wall enveloping the entire structure uses pale-colored glass set into elements of metal filigree that exhibit a true elegance in design.
Starting from the base, the first nine floors are dedicated to retail taking advantage of the large floor plate area. Floors 11 to 47 are dedicated to office space, floors 52 to 75 house “officetel” space, and floors 80 to 109 earmarked to contain a 7-star luxury hotel. Commonly found in Korea, officetels offer studio-style apartments for employees who work in the building and feature services typically found in hotels such as standard furnishings, front desk services, and gym access. The remaining upper floors of the 123-story tower are allotted for public use and entertainment facilities, which include the observation deck and rooftop café. These functions at the top of the tower combine to create a dramatic civic realm that is the culmination of the whole structure itself and ties the very top to the city below.