A 1,615-ft.-high symbol suddenly in search of meaning

Jan 01, 2009 | 11:11 AM |

SHANGHAI, China At first sight, the global economic slowdown seems to have had little impact in Shanghai, China's brash financial capital. A 10-minute walk through the streets of the city's financial district is guaranteed to leave shoes coated in dust from the many construction sites, where migrant workers from the country's interior work on building the latest apartment building or shopping mall, occasionally stopping to stare unashamedly at a passing foreigner. In the five-star hotels near the city's famous Bund riverfront district, foreign and Chinese businessmen still strike deals and plan for what until recently seemed to be a future of almost-guaranteed expansion.

One of the most striking changes to have emerged on the city's skyline during the past year is very much in keeping with Shanghai's role as China's modern city the completion of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the country's tallest building at 491 meters (1,615 feet). The sweeping, angular building—nicknamed the "paper bag" or "bottle opener" due to its distinctive aperture near the summit—more than satisfies the new China's desire for grand statements of achievement. It might not be the tallest building in the world—that remains the Taipei 101 tower across the Taiwan Strait—but it is one of the most distinctive and original.....

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