Morphosis's 'Dragon' Takes Flight in Shanghai

Santa Monica-based Morphosis is designing in China for the first time: a new headquarters for Giant Group Pharmaceuticals. The 180,000-square-foot building’s narrow, winding form will twist around canals and a man-made lake on eight-acre site that was once farmland in the outskirts of Shanghai. Firm principal Tim Christ says that its shape resembles that of a dragon, which is the nickname that his Chinese clients have given the project.

Images: Courtesy Morphosis
Morphosis designed a new headquarters for Giant Group Pharmaceuticals in Shanghai.

Firm principal Tim Christ says that the building’s shape resembles that of a dragon, which is the nickname that his Chinese clients have given the project.

The steel-framed building will be clad largely in reddish, weathered steel and glass. Its east wing will contain roughly 500 open-plan workstations. Executive suites, located at the head of the dragon, will cantilever roughly 90 feet above the lake. A library, auditorium, exhibition space, and cafeteria will be tucked into tucked into an earth berm and lit from above by skylights. On the building’s west side, a clubhouse with an undulating green roof will contain a pool and additional recreation facilities. A hotel and guest suites on this side of the campus will project over the water.

Among several energy efficient features, the Dragon’s partial green roof will limit heat gain and water runoff. The site’s water features will also help control storm water runoff. A double-insulated, ceramic-fritted glass curtain wall will provide sun shading and the building’s narrow profile and skylights will ensure access to daylight. Under-floor heating and air conditioning will also help the building reduce energy usage. Construction on this green-at-heart red dragon is expected to finish in 2008.


The 180,000-square-foot building’s narrow, winding form will twist around—and cantilever over—canals and a man-made lake on eight-acre site.

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