Category Archives: Out in Shanghai

Shanghai World Financial Center

Completed in 2008, the Shanghai World Financial Center is currently the tallest building in China, and third tallest in the world. The building is located in Pudong, East side of the Huangpu river, across the street from the second tallest building in Shanghai, the Jin Mao tower.  Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates P.C. (KPF), the tower holds retail and restaurant space, a media center, office space, forum space, sky lobby, the Park Hyatt Shanghai hotel, a sky arena, and an observatory level complete with partial glass floors to see the city below. Topping out at 492 meters, 101 stories above the ground, the SWFC is a dominant figure in the Shanghai skyline.  So much in fact, that we had to go and check it out for ourselves.

At the Northwest corner of the Site

We got dropped off by a cab at the Northwest corner of the site.  Even the views from the base of the tower were pretty incredible, so we were very excited to make our way in and up to the top observation deck.

SWFC (left) and Jin Mao Tower (right)

Looking Back to the Pudong Waterfront


Shanghai Tower Construction Site

The entrance fee to make it up to the top was 150 rmb ($23).  You have the option to only pay 100 rmb to get to the sky arena on the 94th floor, but we really wanted to check out the glass floors at the sky bridge on the 100th floor, so we paid the extra fee.  We went at night, just after dinner, and the lines were surprisingly short.  There are so many people in China, not counting tourists, so when you are going anywhere you expect there to be a crowd, so this was a pleasant turn of events.  While waiting for the elevator, you pass this great physical model of Pudong, highlighting the SWFC and the other buildings nearby.

Physical Model of Shanghai Skyline

The elevator takes you up to the 94th floor and from there you take an odd rainbow-colored escalator up to the 97th floor (the bottom portion of the void at the top of the building).

Escalator from 94th Floor to 97th Floor

97th Floor Observatory

Unfortunately, once at the 100th floor sky walk, the clouds rolled in and the visibility lowered a bit, but I still managed to get a few pictures of the Pudong and the rest of Shanghai down below.

Looking Out at Jin Mao and Oriental Pearl Tower

Sky Walk








The Bund

One of the first spots that everyone wants to see when they visit Shanghai is the Bund.  This is a one mile stretch in the Huangpu district, lining the West side of the Huangpu River, consisting of many historical building.  Programatically, most of these buildings are banks, translating architecturally to a classical style.

The Bund Packed with Tourists

This area is most famous though, for taking pictures of Pudong (still within the Huangpu district), the area just to the East of Huangpu River.  This is where you can get a great view of the Shanghai skyline, highlighted by the Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, and the Shanghai World Financial Center.  Standing on the bund is not only a place for great photo-ops, but there is also a great contrast between the classical foundation of Shanghai on the West side, and the more modern contemporary style on the East side.

Shanghai (Pudong) Skyline from the Bund

In terms of seeing the sights, one of the nice things about going to the Bund, is that it doesn’t cost anything.  You can pick a spot, stay there for several hours and watch the skyline transform as day turns to-night.  We got there just before sunset and got to see the lights come on in the city which was pretty spectacular.  However, if you are looking for a meal or a place to get a drink, this is one of the more pricey areas in the city, so come prepared.

Pudong at Night




Lost again….

It didn’t take long to get lost in Shanghai.  We had arrived just after noon, and decided to locate our hostel, drop our stuff off, and attempt to take the bus to the Gensler office for our internship which started the following day.  Not knowing a lot about the geography of Shanghai, we had booked a room at the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel in Luwan for one week to determine whether the location was convenient for the commute to the office.  Once at the hostel, we mapped out our route, which showed that we had a few different public transportation options to choose from, either the 146 bus or 109 bus, both of which picked you up from the same stop.  Our experiment began with a ten minute walk through our new neighborhood.

Hostel Entrance

Quxi Lu

Our hostel was on Quxi Lu (Lu means Road), near the intersection with Luban Lu.  When in Shanghai, you always give directions based on street intersections as opposed to Beijing which was always landmarks.  After a short walk to Mengzi Lu, we waited for a few minutes for the bus to arrive, and even though we had planned on taking the 109, we knew both buses went approximately to the same area so we took the 146 when it arrived first.  All of us were worn out from the long night of travel, especially because we did not sleep well on the “hard seats.”  So much in fact, that we all fell asleep briefly, and ended up passing our stop.  Once we realized what had happened we got off the bus and tried to figure out where we were.  We ended up right across the street from the Shanghai Cultural Center, so we thought this wasn’t exactly a bad thing as we knew we were relatively close to our destination, and some exploring around the office area would proof useful to find some good places to eat, shop, etc.

Shanghai Cultural Center 1

Shanghai Cultural Center 2

It was pretty apparent when walking around Shanghai, that it was quite different from Beijing.  Immediately in Shanghai, you get a feeling that the city has much more of a human scale to it.  Sure there are buildings of all different shapes and sizes, but no matter where you look, the ground level of all the buildings were engaging the street and human activity.  After an hour or so of walking we came across one of the central spots in downtown Shanghai called Tomorrow Square.  Adjacent to the square are many prominent buildings including the Shanghai Grand Theater, the JW Marriot Hotel, Shanghai Porsche Center, the Shanghai Museum, and People’s Park.

Shanghai Grand Theater

JW Marriot at Tomorrow Square

Shanghai Porsche Centers

Once we reached Tomorrow Square, we were all a little frustrated, so we stopped and asked some locals for directions.  They were nice enough to stop a cab for us and give instructions on where we were trying to go.  As we thought, we weren’t too far off (less than ten minute cab ride) until we arrived at our office building.  The building was located right across the street from Xintiandi, this great renovated restaurants and shopping area (, taken off of traditional Shanghainese housing styles.   On the other side of the office was a small man-made lake and park.  When standing in the park and looking back at the office, you can see the Shanghai skyline in the PuDong district, highlighted by the Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower (still under construction).  All in all, it turned out to be a great area that we all got to know and love by the end of the trip.

Gensler Office Building from Taipingqiao Park

Skyline of the PuDong District in the Distance