December 23, 2008
Above, left, is the Jin Mao Tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. It was, until just recently, home to the “world’s tallest hotel.” Above, right, is the Shanghai World Financial Center, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, home to the newest “world’s tallest hotel.” That’s where I stayed in October on assignment for Travel + Leisure, in the Park Hyatt that sits just below the rectangular cutout in the sleek, beveled tower. The buildings in the foreground are two of the more typical Pudong high rises.
This was the view from my hotel room on the 83rd floor of the SWFC. I liked the Pudong from up here much better than I did at street level. I loved looking out at the upper levels of the Jin Mao. It was as if I were staying in a hotel room that looked directly into the crown of the Chrysler Building. And the television tower, with it’s Christmas ornament aesthetic, was a bonus.
The public observation deck in the SWFC, newly opened when I was there, was already a popular attraction with tour groups lining up on the sidewalk below. The photo above was shot on the lower level, the bottom edge of the tower’s cut-out. A second level, running along the top edge of the cutout features glass floors, for a little extra added vertigo. Because my hotel room was only 14 floors below, the view up here didn’t seem so extraordinary. Why brave the crowds when I could do my observing from the comfort of my own minimalist-chic daybed?
Actually, the best reason to visit the observation deck might be the ambient artwork by Toshio Iwai. I loved his hypnotic elevator interiors. I would have been happy to have spent more time with the art and less with the view. I would have ridden this elevator all day if only they’d let me.
I didn’t get to spend as much time exploring Shanghai as I would have liked. But I did see one thing that was just as cool as the Toshio Iwai elevator; a wedding party transported by motorcycles with sidecars whizzed past my taxi somewhere in the French Concession.
For more on my trip to Shanghai, you check out the article in the January Travel + Leisure. Also, my current Metropolis column is a philosophical round-up of my year’s travels.