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Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal

Underground cruise ship terminal straddled by elevated glass structure protected from typhoons, earthquakes, sun, and rain. ACEC NY Platinum award; LEED-equivalent standards. 540,000 sf.

The Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal is a glass and steel bubble-shaped structure-80 meters long, 40 meters wide, 37 meters high-that is supported over an underground cruise ship terminal with a much larger footprint. Plans include a restaurant, ballroom, and conference center on three levels, intended to attract inhabitants of a large mixed-use project, also being developed by the city and Franshion, Ltd. The adjoining complex consists of seven office buildings, three apartment buildings, and a high-rise hotel that share an underground mall and two-mile-long waterfront park. Three berths will accommodate cruise ships carrying as many as 4,000 passengers. The bubble was originally conceived as a passenger sky lounge with floating observation decks, but the limited number of ships did not guarantee full-time use.

Manufacturing requirements dictated the form. The curve of the shell structure increases in height in both directions, creating an asymmetric, dynamic internal space. Weidlinger studied a variety of options to harmonize the steel frame with the glass facade. Only certain geometries produced the cost-efficient rectangular and trapezoidal flat shapes required by the glass consultant. Special attention was paid to the two ends of the shell, which can become too densely packed with structural steel as the shell grid converges.

The 6,000-square-meter roof surface is only partially supported by its own curvature. Additional bracing is provided by the upper floors and by a series of compression struts at their perimeters. The first story is a rigid steel platform, supported by two steel cores for the elevators and stairways and by a dozen triangulated steel legs that elevate the structure 10 meters above the park. The platform carries the shell and transfers the gravity, seismic, and wind loads from the upper floors to the concrete-encased composite columns of the underground structure. The columns are spaced 12 meters on center to provide the longer spans required.

Completion Date: 2009
Location: Shanghai, China
Owner or Client: Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal
Prime Consultant(s): Frank Repas Architects

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