From a distance, the Beijing Greenland Center recently-completed by the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) may look like any of the other rectangular skyscrapers that dot China's capital city. Look a little closer, however, and you'll see that the tower features an elegant trapezoidal glass facade that's claimed to improve its energy performance.

Comprising 55 floors, the Beijing Greenland Center is located in the Dawangjing business district and rises to a height of 260 m (853 ft). The interior contains office space and 178 apartments and the building is also connected to an attached multi-story retail zone.

The pattern of the glazed facade is inspired by the bas-relief sculpting technique and comprises two types of trapezoidal Low-E (efficient) glass modules. One tapers upward, the other downward, with the two alternating across the facade, refracting the daylight inside and out.

"The design team sought to create an elegant, eye-catching tower by exploring interactions between simple form, light, and shadow," explains SOM. "In a response to Beijing's overcast skies, the tower catches and reflects daylight to enliven the surrounding neighborhood."

SOM says that the trapezoid glass facade improves the building's thermal performance, cutting down on solar heat gain compared to a completely flat glass facade.

Indeed, the firm aims for the Beijing Greenland Center to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use and water consumption compared to a baseline building, however it's not clear exactly what this baseline is. Architectural Digest reports that it refers to other towers throughout China, but we're awaiting comment from SOM.

Besides the glazed facade, the building includes some energy-efficient tech, including variable speed pumps for heating and cooling, an evaporative cooling system, and a thermal wheel (an energy recovery heat exchange system that recaptures exhaust gases and hot air and reuses them for heating).

SOM designed the master plan too, which aims to improve walking and bicycling in the area, while a new park includes amenities like cafes and recreation facilities. The firm's San Francisco office is also in the process of completing three other towers nearby.

Source: SOM

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