Skyscraper of the Day: Meet Shenzhen’s Steel Giant


The second tallest building in China, the Ping An International Finance Center, opened in 2017 and is 599 meters tall. It is located in the rapidly developing central business district of Shenzhen and has become an icon for the city skyline. The building was constructed to house the headquarters of the Ping An Insurance company along with many floors for retail and office space. Currently it is also the 4th tallest building in the world and at its opening it held the record for the world’s highest observation deck, narrowly crossing the observation deck of the Shanghai Tower.

Renowned architects famous for designing multiple supertall skyscrapers, Kohn Pederson Fox designed the Ping An Center. Comprising 100 office floors above the retail and conference podium, the tower can accommodate 15,500 workers and 9,000 daily passengers to an observation deck. Anchored by eight stone mega-columns with diagonal bracing, the tower conveys stability at its ground level. Sheathed in glass and stone, the podium houses a central atrium that acts as a public vestibule and sun-lit space for meeting, shopping, and dining. Five floors of retail shops terrace away from the tower, forming a large, amphitheater-like space.

Described as having the form of a ‘taught steel cable’, the top of the tower tapers to a prism with a pyramid shaped structure topping it off. A 60 meter spire was initially designed for the tower but due to reasons related to flight paths and aviation safety the spire was never constructed. The eight composite mega-columns further emphasise the building’s form, anchored to the composite concrete core using steel outriggers. These mega-columns help streamline the structure by extruding beyond the envelope, improving both structural and wind performance. Baseline wind loads are estimated to be reduced by 35% as a result of this design solution.

The façade of the tower is made up largely of massive stainless steel panels and as a result the tower contains the world’s largest stainless steel façade, comprised of about 1700 tons of corrosion resistant steel.


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