Designed by Shanghai Huadu Architect Design, the "rising sun" view of the hotel can be seen from its front. From this perspective, the hotel is a circular shape, rising 97 m (318.2 ft) and 21 floors into the sky. Overall, it is actually shaped more like a disc that is partially buried in the ground.
The 18,075 sq m (194,558 sq ft) exterior surface is covered by over 10,000 glass panels that provide a translucent and reflective effect. Lighting strips, meanwhile, run up and over the height of the building, creating ovals when viewed from the side.
In addition to its striking looks, the Yanqi Lake Kempinski Hotel has been designed with a number of innovative operational features in mind. According to Kempinski, natural gas is the main fuel for heating and cooling the building, and it is the first hotel in China to use a gas power generation system to reduce energy consumption. Photovoltaic panels are also used to generate electricity, and glazing is four-layered to improve insulation.
The building additionally has an indoor air monitoring system to improve air quality, and is designed to withstand earthquakes up to eight on the Richter Scale. Kempinski says that construction of the hotel took 24 months and 9,300 construction workers.