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Breaking the mold
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The newly completed Suzhou Museum, designed by Chien Chung Pei, the middle son of I.M. Pei, features traditional style, with attention to detail and distinctiveness.(Photo Source: China Daily/Li Junfeng)

The Linked Hybrid design features plenty of publicly accessible space on three levels and public bridges linking the five buildings between floors 18 and 22 on each. McVoy said all of its openings were portals and passages conceived as "cinematic space." McVoy later spoke about the "Shenzhen Floating Skyscraper" that his firm worked on, which created the underside of the building as a fifth facade that had been raised "on legs" from the ground.

"Rather than a base with retail, food, stores, cinemas, etc, they wanted to put the building up on legs, so suspension cables to support all the floors were put in, minimizing the use of steel," McVoy says.

But there is at least one structure that evokes memory of an American skyline in China.

David Malott, PC at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, presented a study on the construction of the highly-acclaimed Shanghai World Financial Center, which his firm designed in 1993 and finally completed in 2007.

Malott said that as in the beginning there was no context to drawn on, their design decision was with reference to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai, "so there would be a dialogue between the two landmarks." He detailed the World Financial Center's "visual twist," as the structure starts as a square at the base and tapers to parallel lines at its top - what he described as "various functions contained in a single gesture."

"The building is incredibly modular - even though the design is so unique it snaps together almost like Lego," he says.

In 1999, the owner (Mori Building Co) came to Kohn Pedersen Fox and requested that the building's height be increased from 460 m to 492 m, making it the world's tallest building, although it will be surpassed by the Al Burj in Dubai later this year.

Malott also detailed the process involved in creating the building's top. A globe was originally planned, but when word of this got out to the Chinese public it was perceived as a Japanese symbol. Malott said that it was public postings on the Internet decrying the design that caused the plan to be altered.

"It's a new China with a democratic process, so the design was re-evaluated, even though construction had already begun," Malott says.

(China Daily July 2, 2008)

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