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American architectural designer that has a close bond with China

By Ju Yunpeng, People’s Daily

Sitting in his office on the 56th floor of the 632-meter-tall Shanghai Tower in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, chief designer of this fascinating architect Marshall Strabala stared out the window at the magnificent building clusters along the banks of the Huangpu River.

“I’m a part of the Chinese architectural design industry, and I have witnessed how the sector has changed,” said the American architect, who, because of architecture, established a close bond with China and observed the country’s social progress.

Strabala, who believes that architecture is the most impressive part of a city, came to China for the first time in 1999, when he visited Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.

He told People’s Daily that when his cab drove all the way from Puxi to Pudong in Shanghai, he was “tasting” the city. Recalling the drive, the man said Puxi was home to a bunch of historical buildings, while skyscrapers were standing in Pudong, including the Jin Mao Tower.

Photo taken on Dec. 2, 2021 shows several skyscrapers in Shanghai's Pudong New Area. (Photo by Wang Gang/People's Daily)
Photo taken on Dec. 2, 2021 shows several skyscrapers in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area. (Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily)

“I felt China was both historical and vital,” he said.

After that, Strabala’s visits to China became more and more frequent. In 2006, he came to Shanghai for a design competition of the Shanghai Tower. By that time, he had already been a designer of the Zifeng Tower in Nanjing, China and the Khalifa Tower. He and his team put forward a creative plan for the Shanghai Tower, which would make the structure twist 120 degrees.

“Such a design is advanced in the entire world, but it’s successfully accepted by China,” he said. Two years later, he was chosen as the chief designer of the Shanghai Tower and started working in the Chinese metropolis.

Strabala has put a lot of energy into the Shanghai Tower. Everything about it, from structure to materials, was designed meticulously by him and his team. They designed the tower in a spiraling shape to reduce the impact of wind, and adopted advanced energy management for lower energy consumption.

The Shanghai Tower has been awarded a LEED-CS Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2015, and in the following year, it was named the 2016 Best Tall Building Worldwide by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

“I’ve been to Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, as well as Hubei and Jilin provinces. Everywhere I went, I could see robust development,” he said.

He shared a story of a field trip to the Changbai Mountain National Nature Reserve in northeast China’s Jilin province a couple of years ago. When he first visited the place, there was no decent road around it, but when he revisited it two years later, a road network has been built there.

“Not only megacities like Shanghai, but also every region in the country are developing,” he noted, adding that such changes are touching and inspiring.

From the Jin Mao Tower, to the Shanghai World Financial Center, and to the Shanghai Tower, the ever-rising skyline of Putong is a witness to China’s development miracle.

In recent years, Strabala had contacts with some local governments in China when he joined major design projects in the country. He felt the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the stable social environment are what made the country achieve such a huge progress.

Strabala said Chinese officials at all levels are good at listening and learning, and are willing to accept novel ideas and suggestions. Through years of field trips in China, he has witnessed the country’s development in education, healthcare, housing and other aspects related to livelihood, as well as the concrete efforts of the CPC and the Chinese government to make people’s lives better.

“I believe that under the leadership of the CPC, China will surely better embrace the world and the future during its development, and the life of the Chinese people will get better and better,” he said.

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