Poly International Plaza: Tall Buildings and the Ground Plane

Larry Chien
Managing Director
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, San Francisco

Poly International Plaza sought to create an innovative office and trade center development in Pazhou, Guangzhou, an industrial city along the Pearl River. It is situated in a new commercial district, which is defined by a recently constructed convention center and Shangri-La Hotel. The Plaza consists of two office towers, each coupled with a low-rise podium that accommodates exhibition and retail uses; the below-grade spaces include an exhibition hall and trade center.

The offset core towers maximize light transmission to their interiors. On the north, the towers’ forms are defined by floor-to-ceiling glass, on the south the exposed structural framework also works as a shading device. The towers achieve sustainable design through their use of natural light; natural ventilation; floor-by-floor mechanical systems; under floor air distribution; shaded outdoor space; and green roofs.

Because the Pearl River delta has always been a dynamic nexus of trade in China, water views have a symbolic value in the project. Thanks to the towers’ innovative structural spine, and double lattice brace, the offset cores are light and transparent, and allow a high degree of openness to southern views; the glass elevators, staircases, restrooms, and terraces, are all lightfilled spaces.

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