Suzhou Zhongnan Center in Suzhou, China. Renderings courtesy Gensler.



Located to the west of Jinji Lake, the Suzhou Zhongnan Center is a 729-meter, 137-story mixed-use tower with office, residential and hotel space. The tower has five stories below grade and an eight-story, long-span podium that provides ballroom and conference facilities. As structural engineers, Thornton Tomasetti had to overcome challenges originating from the substantial gravity and lateral loads, including wind and seismic, inherent in supertall buildings.

Thornton Tomasetti designed an efficient and economical structure for Suzhou Zhongnan Center tower by utilizing innovative structural systems and state-of-the-art analysis techniques. A sturdy foundation system, relying on concrete bored piles with post grouting, is capable of supporting substantial gravity loads. A “core-outrigger-mega frame” system provides sufficient lateral stiffness and strength to resist significant lateral loads and also satisfies the strict story drift ratio. The lightweight floor system will meet floor vibration criteria and furthermore reduces the total weight of the tower, while damping systems will enhance occupant comfort levels. The location and quantity of outriggers have been carefully analyzed and consequently designed to balance structural efficiency and construction economy.

The design represents a robust and ductile system that will achieve the desired performance levels under potentially severe wind or seismic conditions.

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Pioneers in the design of high-rise buildings, we use advanced analysis to optimize structural systems, resolve interdisciplinary conflicts, and guard the safety and comfort of occupants. For structures of unconventional size, shape, structural system or function, we employ performance-based design methodologies when prevailing building codes are inapplicable or inadequate, such as in high-seismic areas. Our deep bench of seasoned professionals combines unequalled experience with sophisticated technological tools to enrich the creative process, promote effective collaboration, improve coordination and enhance visualization and communication throughout planning, design and construction. Click here for our brochure (PDF).