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Chief architect of Shanghai Tower: Shanghai is a walkable city
By:Zhao Chunyuan  |  From:东方网  |  2021-10-29 16:39


  Marshall Strabala: chief architect of the Shanghai Tower

This summer, Typhoon In-Fa brought significant storms to Shanghai. Video of the TMD system in Shanghai Tower, swaying in response to the wind, went viral once again. In fact, the Shanghai Tower is "as stable as a mountain" when a typhoon comes not only because of its sophisticated EC-TMD system, but also because of its unique structure. With a rotation of nearly 1 degree between every floor, this distinctive form also helps to withstand the impact of typhoons. As the chief architect of the Shanghai Tower, Marshall Strabala was honored with the 2021 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award this year as a foreigner who has made outstanding contributions to Shanghai. In a recent interview, Marshall told us about his love for Shanghai and the exciting future of Shanghai in his eyes.


  Marshall (fourth from left) receiving the 2021 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award

After graduating from Harvard University, Marshall started his architectural career at SOM's Chicago headquarters. Before designing the Shanghai Tower, the team he led had already been involved in the design of two super-tall buildings, including the Nanjing Zifeng Tower and the Burj Khalifa Tower. In 2006, Marshall submitted the winning design proposal for the Shanghai Tower.“So, from 2008, it was full time in Shanghai", said Marshall.


Marshall’s story with the city began when he first arrived in Shanghai on a business trip in 1999."After I landed at Hongqiao Airport Terminal One, I got in a cab and the guy said‘什么路’(What street), but I had no clue what he was saying. After a minute or two, I thought and said ‘Jinmao’. He kept saying‘什么路’and shaking his head. Finally, I took out my pencil and piece of paper and drew a picture of the Jinmao Tower. He looked at it and said,‘Oh! Jinmao’, and then he took me to Jinmao Tower", Marshall said with a smile. Later, he learned to tell a taxi driver in Chinese where he was going and the taxi driver understood him the first time. And that became one of his most memorable times in Shanghai. Today, Marshall is studying Chinese and he loves to write Chinese characters. In his eyes, there is a vivid story behind every Chinese character.

One of the reasons why Marshall really fell in love with Shanghai was the pedestrian conditions in Shanghai. In his opinion, the number one thing that makes a city livable is walkability."I prefer Shanghai as a walkable city. The soft power of a city is really its ability to move people around easily”, said Marshall.

Now working in the Shanghai Tower that he designed, Marshall sees it as a valuable opportunity that when there are any problems with the building, he is able to work with the owners to fix them."We have great neighbors. I always ask them how they feel about the different systems in the building so that the next buildings we make will be better and better", Marshall added. In his view, learning from the past is how someone makes things better."Living and working in a building you've designed, I would recommend for any architect", Marshall advised sincerely.


  The Shanghai Living Room Proposal

  Shanghai Eye

As the chief architect of China's tallest building, what are Marshall’s plans and designs for the future of the city of Shanghai? The Shanghai Living Room Proposal is his answer.“About a year ago, we were approached to put together some thoughts and ideas for the 14th Five-Year Plan. We chose to center on increasing transportation in the city. We tried to first not remove existing lines of transportation to make them better, because Shanghai has one of the best subway systems in the world". What Marshall and his team first came up with was the idea of sky trains."The sky train is basically a subway, but it's above ground. And the sky train would be a glass roof train that you could actually see the city from. It could be used for not only tourists but also everyday people in Shanghai. We will put these trains in the areas where there are no trains and no transportation. We found that there's a gap in the subway system along the Huangpu River. So, we started looking at where to put train stations on the Huangpu River for the sky trains, which will connect indirectly to Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport by connecting to existing metro stations. It will also become sort of a gate to Lujiazui and Houtan business district, forming a shared business district MCBD", said Marshall."We also came up with the idea of the Shanghai Eye, like the London Eye, which will be a tourist attraction that goes up high and crosses the Huangpu River. We wanted to have 100 capsules to represent the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, which is being celebrated this year. The interesting thing about the Shanghai Eye when you look at it, it's like a number eight on its side or the item for infinity", Marshall added.

At the same time, Marshall also started planning foot bridges across the Huangpu River.“We have sky trains, foot bridges, and this whole network connecting Shanghai with itself as a new way to move people around”, said Marshall.


  Marshall’s message after winning the Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award

Will it happen?"I hope so, it would be nice, we'll see in the future", Marshall said at the end of the interview.