Poly International Plaza, Beijing, China, project: SOM-Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Project: SOM-Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Design Partner: Leo Chow; Consulting Partner: Gene Schnair; Technical Partner: Keith Boswell; Project Managing Director: Larry Chien; Associate Design Director: Angela Wu; Technical Coordinator: Brian Cook; Technical Design: Francesca Oliveira; Design Architect: Christopher Talbott; Project Coordinators: Stephanie Chang, Josephine Pai; Digital Design Coordinator: Jeffrey Bajamundi; Architect of Record: Beijing Institute of Architectureal Design (BIAD); Structural Engineering Partner: Mark Sarkisian; Senior Structural Engineering Associate Director: Neville Mathias; Structural Engineering Associate Director: Rupa Garai; Structural Engineer: Andrew Krebs, Zhaofan Li, Joanna Zhang, Jeffrey Keileh, Christopher Horiuchi; Technical: Danny Bently, Feliciano Racines; MEP Consultants: WSP Engineering Services; Landscape Consultants: SWA Group; Lighting Consultants: Francis Krahe & Associates Inc.; Green Building Design Consultants: Built Ecology; Vertical Transportation Consultants: Edgett Williams Consulting Group; General Contractor: China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Company Limited; Manufacturers: Schindler, Dorma, Interface, Kohler, Yuefu, Xinyi Glass, North Glass, Shandong Dahua Rixin Aluminum, ESCOFET, Beijing Qingshang Architectural Ornamental Engineering, Jianho Group, Photos: Bruce Damonte
Located midway between the Forbidden City and Beijing Capital Airport, Poly International Plaza occupies a prominent position in a new business district adjacent to the Capital Airport Expressway. The project site comprises a main tower and two smaller supporting towers.
The elliptical footprint of the three towers frees the buildings from the rigid geometry of the adjoining urban fabric, allowing the landscape of surrounding parks to continue seamlessly through the project site.
The landscaping covers garage ramps and egress stairs, minimizing their visual impact while creating a tranquil, undulating topography with pedestrian paths.
Inspired by Chinese paper lanterns, the design of the main tower’s exterior is formed by a continuous diagrid pattern, with a jewel-like faceting that shimmers as it reflects the sky.
In order to maintain purely axial loads in the elliptical form, diagrid members are constructed from straight, rather than curving segments.
Floor framing loads are transferred to the diagrid only at primary nodes every second-floor frame directly into the exoskeleton, while the intervening floors are supported by hangers from the floor immediately above.
The outer layer of glazing is the result of mapping a surface directly onto the straight structural members, generating a faceted rather than elliptical form.
The exoskeleton structural system forms an outer thermal envelope around the office spaces, which are enclosed within a second glazed interior envelope.
Mechanically, this semi-climatized interstitial space mediates exterior temperature extremes, reducing the overall building energy consumption by 23% and carbon emissions by 18%.
It also creates daylit communal areas that accommodate meetings and foster social interaction, while establishing physical and visual connections between floors.