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With its space-age vibe, the Oriental Pearl Tower stands out even among the iconic buildings of Shanghai’s bustling Pudong District. And what better way to travel through space than the tower’s network of advanced Otis® lifts?
The tower features 11 steel spheres of different sizes, linked along three columns. The tower is supported at its base by three diagonal columns. At night, a 3-D light show illuminates the tower against the district’s celebrated skyline.
The tower draws an estimated 2.8 million visitors a year with attractions like a revolving restaurant, shopping center, a hotel, even a roller coaster.
The names of the spheres suggest interplanetary travel, befitting its futuristic architecture: The highest observation deck is the Space Module; the lowest, Space City. The hotel that occupies the five smaller spheres is the Space Hotel.
To reach Space City, the lowest observation level at 90 metres, visitors ride a circular glass Otis lift traveling at 2.5 metres per second, a speed that gives them time to enjoy the view.
Upon opening, the tower featured China's first double-deck lift, technology invented by Otis to increase a building’s passenger capacity using fewer hoistways to free valuable core space.
We’ve since added four lifts. As part of a modernisation project, we’re converting two single-deck lifts to double decks to boost passenger capacity by nearly a third.
Wu Liangyong, China's most influential architect and urban planner, said the tower’s design called to mind a line of Tang Dynasty poetry contemplating the sound of “pearls large and small” falling onto a jade plate.
The tower’s chief architect, Jiang Huancheng, however, said he was unaware of the poem, “Pipa Song,” and described his design in more mundane terms: “three legs, one bowl and one umbrella.”
Part of the Shanghai History Museum’s collection is housed in the exhibition room at the tower’s base. The collection charts the city’s history from its opening as an international port in 1843 to the Communist victory of 1949.
The museum currently has no permanent home and other parts of the collection can be seen at other Shanghai museums.
Completed in 1994, the Oriental Pearl Tower stood as the tallest structure in China until 2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center (492 metres), another Otis project in the Pudong District.
The tower continues to operate as a radio and television tower, transmitting signals across Shanghai for around 30 television and radio stations.
Shanghai Modern Architectural Design Co. Ltd.
Jiang Architects & Engineers