What’s Shaking in Shanghai?

The Bad
A magnitude 7.8-7.9 earthquake hit Sichuan (formerly Szechuan) province near Shanghai, the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Schools, factories, and hospitals collapsed. The current guess is 10,000 dead. 80% of the buildings in Beichuan county collapsed. 2,300 cell phone towers were disabled. Wenchuan county, the epicenter of the quake, has not been heard from as all the roads were destroyed. Death counts are expected to go higher.

The Good
Shanghai has been in the midst of a building boom for the past five years, with many buildings intended for the Olympics and others being showy skyscrapers and typical examples of modern/post-modern architecture. Imagine a glass skyscraper with a jester’s hat on the top. Imagine a skyline of skyscrapers none of which seem to be quite parallel with the others, as if they were all slightly tilted from the vertical. Imagine a building shaped like a tinkertoy, or a pin with a mother-of-pearl head. You don’t have to visit Shanghai to see them. Visit Jincheng company for an assortment of pictures. Or take a look at this “green” luxury hotel that looks like a stack of pancakes built on the walls of a 100 meter deep rock quarry. Use this Google search.

The Ugly
Or look at a few pictures of these nonsensical shapes, like mutant blocks from a child’s playset.

The skyline over the waterfront looks like an oversized amusement park.

Jinmao tower wreathed in clouds.

Pearl tower, an impossible building.

Jester\'s Cap

The Jester’s hat

The Shanghai Stock Exchange. Another impossible building this time in the shape of an “H”


Do they look crooked to you? Taken before the quake.

The new buildings of Shanghai partake of that cheap, tarted up air of all modern and post-modern architecture. There is no human scale to them. They could have been built by humans, or bees, or flown to Earth by freakishly intelligent, octopoid creatures from a distant sun.


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