Shanghai defies slump with tallest building plan

Bu Rujun Shen

SHANGHAI, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Three months after opening the world’s second tallest skyscraper, Shanghai is about to start construction of an even taller building, defying an economic slowdown and slumping property values across the country.

Work on the 632-metre (2,073-foot) Shanghai Tower, expected to cost $2.2 billion, will begin in the city’s Lujiazui financial district on Saturday and is expected to be completed in 2014, developers said on Thursday.

Gu Jianping, managing director of Shanghai Tower Construction and Development Co, said that by the time the building is opened China’s economy is likely to be booming again. He added that by starting work in an economic downturn construction materials would be cheaper.

“Launching construction at this time will help boost Shanghai’s confidence in fighting the financial crisis,” he told a news conference.

The 121-floor, glass-and-steel tower will include offices, retail space, a hotel and cultural facilities. Designers said it would be one of China’s greenest skyscrapers -- its spiral shape would minimise wind resistance and energy consumption, and the top of the building would house 54 wind turbines.

The Shanghai Tower will dwarf China’s current tallest building, the 492-metre (1,614-foot) Shanghai World Financial Centre, which opened across the street in August this year. It will also surpass the 509-metre (1,670-foot) Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan, now the world’s tallest skyscraper.

But all of those buildings will be eclipsed by the Burj Dubai, now under construction in the United Arab Emirates. The Burj is expected to be roughly 800 metres (2,625 feet) tall, though its exact height has been kept secret.

Three big Chinese state-owned companies are investing to build the Shanghai Tower, including Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development Co 600663.SS, which owns 45 percent of the venture.

Despite weak Chinese capital markets, Gu said the companies anticipated no trouble raising funds for the project through bank loans and other sources. He did not elaborate. ($1 = 6.82 Yuan) (Editing by Andrew Torchia)