John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
It only took photographer Joe Nafis 1,000 hours to make.
Joe Nafis, a Californian living in China, has a great view from various perches of China’s tallest building, the Shanghai Tower. But just as important he has patience, allowing the creation of this splendid time-lapse footage of the building going from gaping abscess to twisty, moon-poking immensity.
At 2,073 feet tall, the just-finished tower is the second-highest skyscraper on the planet, behind Dubai’s 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa. The thing is so big it’s been sliced into nine “vertical neighborhoods” studded with shops, hotels, restaurants, and offices. However, reaching the top takes less than a minute thanks to what’s billed as the world’s fastest elevator, which zooms along at 40 miles per hour.
Nafis writes the “completion of the Shanghai Tower not only represents the financial success of Shanghai, it symbolizes China's new self-confidence and the shift in the global balance of economic power.” Here’s more from the photographer:
Construction had already begun when I arrived in the city in 2009. The site was a large hole in the ground with construction crews milling around pouring concrete for the base. I began exploring the city looking for views and locations that would serve as groundwork for this video. In 2011, I secured a location with unobstructed views of Lujiazui where I could just glimpse the tower peeking behind the 185m (607 feet) Aurora Plaza. I maintained a camera there for the next 4 years until the tower was completed. In the meantime I took hundreds of thousands of photos from various viewpoints around the city filling up around 8TB in the process. In all, over 1000 hours were dedicated to this project in exploring, shooting and post-processing.