Chengdu Greenland:
A Non-Coplanar Exoskeleton

Tue, Apr 20, 2021
Chengdu Greenland Tower construction view

Dennis C.K. Poon,


Vice Chairman, Thornton Tomasetti

Supertall projects have been central to Dennis Poon’s career as a structural engineer. Poon worked on the teams for the Petronas Towers (1998) in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei 101 (2004) in Taiwan, the first skyscrapers outside of the United States to become, in succession, the world’s tallest buildings. More recently he led the Thornton Tomasetti structural design for Shanghai Tower and Shenzhen ‘s Ping An Finance Center, currently the world’s second and fourth tallest completed skyscrapers. Dennis has extensive experience in seismic design, structural investigations, and optimization of structural systems, and he has worked with conservative Chinese authorities to accept design criteria that reflect international standards and thus allow for more efficient structures.

Dennis’s talk will focus on the innovative structural system of the Chengdu Greenland Tower. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), the 468-meter tower has a distinctive façade treatment of faceted glass meant to symbolize the nearby snowy mountains. The slender shaft employs a concrete core with sloping walls, surrounded by 16 columns that zig-zag along the full height of the tower, creating diamond shapes that reflect different lights and produce contrasting planes of light and shadow.

A native of Hong Kong, Dennis studied Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso, then received a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Columbia University. Having begun his engineering career in 1977 when he was hired by Charles Thornton at the firm that would later be named Thornton Tomasetti, Dennis is now the firm’s Vice Chairman and is in charge of offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City.

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This 1-hour video of a lecture by structural engineer Dennis Poon begins with Poon's talk and is followed by Q&A with Museum Director Carol Willis, whose introduction to the webinar is included after the discussion.