Project-Design Architect, Shanghai Tower
After studying architecture at the University of Colorado at Denver, Xia figured he’d be making the buildings of the future here in America. Then, in the late 1990s, he took a trip to Shanghai, glimpsed the coming building boom, and convinced the brass at the architecture firm Gensler to open up shop in China.
Today, he directs the design of one of the most audacious construction projects in history, the 121-floor Shanghai Tower, slated to become the world’s second-tallest building, at 2,073 feet, when it opens in a couple years. Perhaps more impressive: it could be the world’s greenest skyscraper, an ultramodern anchor to Shanghai’s financial district.
ELEVATING TECHNOLOGY The world’s fastest elevators will travel at speeds in excess of 40 miles an hour while advanced systems control for vibration and air pressure (to keep ears from popping at high speeds and elevations). The cars’ motors will regenerate electricity as they operate, cutting power use by 30 percent.
CITIES IN THE SKY The building will feature nine distinct “neighborhoods” stacked on top of one another—each with a lobby as well as shops and cafés, so occupants need to make only infrequent trips to the base of the tower, and can thereby save energy.