Star River Headquarters / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Area: 120,000 m²
Year: 2023
Photography: Seth Powers
Interior Design: ChengChung + Design
Main Contractor: Zhongtian Construction Group Co., Ltd.
Lighting Design: LEOX Design Partnership
Client: Guangzhou Star River Commercial Investment And Development Co., Ltd.
LDI: Guangzhou Design Institution
Facade Consultant: Shanghai PFT Construction Consulting Co.
City: Guangzhou
Country: China

Star River Headquarters is a commercial building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on Guangzhou’s Pazhou Island. Completed in 2023, it features a striking facade and integrates green spaces with covered walkways and retail levels. The headquarters serve as a centerpiece in the business district, enhancing the urban landscape with public spaces and advanced building systems.

Star river headquarters / skidmore, owings & merrill

The sculptural addition to the business district on Guangzhou’s Pazhou Island is the centerpiece of a reimagined city block, blending green space with covered walkways and multiple retail and commerce levels.

Star river headquarters / skidmore, owings & merrill

Pazhou Island has transformed from a historic trade hub along the Pearl River to a modern commerce center. The Star River Headquarters embodies this shift. The tower’s pleated facade rises in a parabolic taper, creating vertical light and shadow planes that add to its distinct character. Nearby, two other SOM-designed towers—the Guangzhou Chamber of Commerce and SANY Irootech Pazhou—highlight a new class of office buildings reshaping the skyline, promoting a Chinese urbanism that integrates landscape and public space.

The Star River Headquarters is envisioned as a contemporary centerpiece on a public plaza with lush native landscaping and paved areas radiating from its glass-enclosed lobby. The tower’s signature canopy wraps around the base, extending above a retail building. This design conceals mechanical spaces at the block’s edge, creating a covered pedestrian arcade at the end of the retail street. Through a stair-lined opening in the ground, visitors can access the retail offerings and subway connections below grade.

Architectural and engineering designs work together to create a seamless, high-performing, landmark tower form. The tapering profile reduces wind loads, while rounded corners without columns maximize lease spans, introducing bright, open floor plates with views of the Pearl River. The pleated facade forms individual bays sized for both open and closed offices at the perimeter. A latticed structure at the crown contains a greenhouse with heritage specimen plantings and a reconstructed traditional pavilion in a reflecting pool, creating a unique public destination.

The building is designed to minimize embodied carbon and reduce energy consumption while fostering a healthy workplace. The pleated facade design shades the exterior wall, reducing direct solar radiation and allowing diffuse daylight to penetrate deep into interior spaces. High-performance curtain wall systems and thermal insulation reduce cooling loads and improve indoor comfort in the perimeter zone year-round.

Star river headquarters / skidmore, owings & merrill

Mullions running up the entire height of the building integrate user-operable panels for natural ventilation, giving occupants direct access to fresh air. The project incorporates a comprehensive, integrated building management system combining environmental control standards, plant monitoring, and a user interface for efficient operations.

Star river headquarters / skidmore, owings & merrill
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Project Location

Address: Pazhou, Haizhu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510308, China.

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