Mori to add seven floors to Shanghai tower for tall prize


Fri, Feb 14, 2003 - Page 12

Mori Building Co will add seven stories to a Shanghai tower that it began in 1997, spending ?25 billion (US$206 million) more to complete what will become the world's tallest building.

Japan's biggest privately held developer plans to shoulder as much as a third of the US$800 million price tag for the 492m, 101-story World Financial Center, Chairman Minoru Mori told reporters at the building site in the city's Lujiazui financial district.

China, which had 8 percent economic growth last year, is seeking to impress investors with more skyscrapers and hotels, especially in the area it calls the nation's Wall Street. Last year, China had US$52.7 billion of foreign investment, surpassing the US as the world's top recipient, the UN said.

"With the world's attention now focusing on Shanghai, we think it is opportune to resume work on this project," Mori said.

Construction on the World Financial Center, started in 1997, was halted five years ago during the 1997-1998 Asia financial crisis, partly because of controversy over the design.

Now, the skyscraper will contend for glory with Taipei 101, a 508m office under construction in Taiwan, China's political rival. The 101-story building in Taipei, due to be completed next year, will house the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

The height of Taipei 101 is "achieved with a huge antenna right at the top. We can also add a couple of antennas," Mori said. It is important to set the record straight because "being the tallest sure beats being No.2."

In Shanghai, the glass-and-reinforced-concrete World Financial Center will comprise a shopping mall, 70 floors of offices, an eight-story hotel and a museum and an open-air observation deck, said David Malott, associate principal at New York-based Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, which drew up the original design.

The building will add almost 380,000m2 of office and hotel space to the Lujiazui area, where average office occupancy was less than two-thirds last year.

The original design of the building earned China's ire because a 50m hole at the top bore a resemblance to the symbol for the Japanese flag, China said.

Mori, which said the hole is to relieve wind pressure, bowed to sensitivity about Japan's invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s by adding the observation deck across the middle of the hole.

With the new height, the World Financial Center will top Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers, which holds the current record as the world's tallest building, including 39m decorative spires.

"Shanghai does require some unique landmarks to set it aside from other cities and financial centers in the world," said Zheng Shiling, a member of the Chinese government's think-tank, the Academy of Social Sciences.

Shanghai's Lujiazui already houses China's tallest building, the 421m Jin Mao Tower.