Lotte World Tower
Lotte World Tower is one of the current projects of the noted international architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF). The firm has won an international competition and has designed this 555-meter high tower for Jasmil in Seoul City, South Korea, in 2009. The competition was held by the owner and developer of this project, Lotte Group, which is one of South-Korea largest corporation. It was supposed to be completed in 2014 but it has faced a series of delays due to numerous reasons, and it is going to be finally finished in 2016. Once completed it will proudly stand as one of the world’s tallest buildings, rising 10 meters above the 546-meter tall One World Trade Center in New York City.
Courtesy of KPF

Courtesy of KPF

The concept of this design meets the modern beauty where glass and structure are fused across the tower. When I first saw a digital rendered image of this tower in 2014 I thought they took The Shard from London to Seoul. As funny as it sounds it really resembles it from top to bottom. They are both being altered in width as the grow higher and they have open ends at the top reaching the skies. I believe that the Lotte Tower was the first to be designed of the two, so what happened with your design Renzo & Piano? How was your visit to Seoul?
Courtesy of KPF

Courtesy of KPF

The planning of this gently curved supertall skyscraper and its site’s preparation lasted 13 years until gaining final construction approval by the South Korena government in November 2010. The exterior skin of the tower is made out of pale-coloured glass panels inspired from traditional Koren ceramics, features of fine metalwork, porcelain, and calligraphy. Once completed the tower is going to be comprised by retail outlets that are forming a shopping mall on floors 1-6, offices spaces up until floor 60, luxury hotel from floors 86-119 and public access floors with observation desk reaching up until the last floor, 123. As of January 2015, the construction of the first 94 floors has been completed. This concrete-supported megastructure is aiming to receive a LEED Gold Certificate at the end of its completion, through its installation and implementation of various sustainable and environmentally-friendly features and elements including wind turbines, water harvesting systems and more.
Courtesy of KPF

Courtesy of KPF

Sinkholes in the have been found in the area around the tower and this has caused the water level of the lake to decrease. This has raised a number of concerns and complaints by developers and residents of the city, but it seems like this does not halt the construction of the tower. The partially-completed structure has gained approval to open its first commercial floors to the public, giving the access to the shopping mall, aquarium and movie theater spaces. It has been forced to close down due to severe safety concerns. These concerns include a crack on one of the aquarium’s fish tanks, people experienced tremor and background noise while watching a film, and lastly people have been struck by a glass door that fell on top of them. It is almost 20 years now since this tower was firstly put on paper, and its construction phase has caused the death of several construction workers. People are not sure if they can trust the building and walk freely within its spaces. Things are not looking good for the Lotte Tower but despite this, it has recently got an approval to reopen again its partially completed towers to the public.
As seen in July 2014 - Courtesy of KPF | Photographer: Teddy Cross

As seen in July 2014 – Courtesy of KPF | Photographer: Teddy Cross

The economic hunger, in this case, is simply outrageous. Building a luxury supertall skyscraper is not enough apparently for Lotte Group and they just want to make maximum profit. This is absolutely understandable in the era we are currently living, but not when people’s safety, or even their lives are on the line. We came to the point where we open the doors of our buildings without them being completed yet. This shows exactly how the greedy developers and property owners think around big projects like this one. Money is indeed the driving factor and as sad as it sounds people are left on the side. The good thing about this is that these kinds of structures can never work without the economic movement of people, those left on the side. So what we end up doing is feeding the people that destroy our cities. This makes us as guilty as them. As attractive these structures are while looking from a long distance, we have to all wake-up, speak up.
Location: Seoul, Korea
Client: Lotte Group
Team: BAUM, Associate Architect
Size: 3.5 million ft2 / 325,000 m2
Height: 555 meters
Awards: MIPIM Future Awards
                Commendation (2011)
By: Andreas Leonidou

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