Gate to the East
Gate to the East
Topping out at just above 300 meters by way of its twin spires, Gate to the East was the first supertall to be constructed in the city of Suzhou. The building is located on the eastern side of the city and adjacent to Lake Jinji, with the design serving as a focal point for a new central business district as well as a gateway looking towards the historic city center. The archway draws from cultural influences of the Gardens of Suzhou, dating to the 11th-19th century and listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The archway also functionally splits the building with residential use on one side and commercial offices, hotel and a museum on the other. The two towers are then structurally joined at the top, the uppermost floor of which contains an indoor atrium landscaped with a Suzhou style garden. Both towers were framed with composite structures featuring a reinforced concrete core and a perimeter of large steel columns. Directly above the 7 story podium base, the columns flanking the void begin tapering inward towards the center. A large belt truss wraps the perimeter of the entire structure where the two legs join near the top.
The unusual shape of the tower led to a number of criticisms likening the structure’s form to a “pair of trousers” as well as nicknames such as “Pants to the East” applied to it even before the tower was topped out. The building as such had become well known to the rest of the world upon completion for this very reason and has in a way fulfilled an unintended role of serving as a gateway to Suzhou. Locally, the building has indeed become a focal point for the city as well as the business district that has since grown up around it, including the construction of the Suzhou Zhongnan Center. A major rail station below the archway ensures Gate to the East will continue to be a gateway for the emerging new economic heart of the city.