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SOM completes star river headquarters as a new addition to guangzhou skyline

som Reshapes Pazhou Island’s Business District


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has recently completed the Star River Headquarters, a sculptural skyscraper located in Guangzhou, China‘s Pazhou Island. The tower serves as a centerpiece for a revitalized city block, integrating green space, retail, and public areas. Historically a center for trade, Pazhou Island is undergoing a modern transformation. The Star River Headquarters embodies this change. Its pleated facade creates a tapered silhouette, with alternating planes of light and shadow adding a distinct character. The tower joins two other SOM-designed buildings — the Guangzhou Chamber of Commerce and SANY Irootech Pazhou (see designboom’s previous coverage here). Together, they represent a new generation of office buildings that reshape the skyline and prioritize a blend of urban development and public space.

SOM guangzhou star riverimages © Seth Powers



star river HQ Enhances the Pedestrian Experience


The Star River Headquarters is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to be a focal point within a public plaza. Lush landscaping and paved walkways radiate from the tower’s glass-enclosed lobby. A signature canopy extends around the base and continues over a neighboring retail building. With this design element, the architects not only conceal mechanical spaces but also creates a covered pedestrian arcade, seamlessly connecting to the district’s retail street. A dedicated entrance with stairs leads visitors down to the subway connection and additional retail offerings.

SOM guangzhou star river
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) completes Star River Headquarters in Guangzhou, China



the high-performing architecture


The Star River Headquarters’ design integrates architectural and engineering elements to achieve a high-performing structure. The tower’s tapered profile reduces wind loads, while its rounded corners allow for column-free spaces, maximizing usable area and offering unobstructed views of the Pearl River for tenants. The pleated facade creates individual bays suitable for both open and closed office layouts along the perimeter. The crown of the building features a latticed structure housing a greenhouse with heritage plants and a reconstructed traditional pavilion situated above a reflecting pool, creating a unique public destination.

SOM guangzhou star river
the skyscraper serves as a centerpiece for a revitalized city block with green space, retail, and public areas



Sustainable Design Principles


The project prioritizes minimal environmental impact and reduced energy consumption, while ensuring a comfortable and healthy work environment. The facade design shades the exterior walls, minimizing direct sunlight while allowing natural light to reach the interior. This, combined with high-performance curtain wall systems and thermal insulation, reduces cooling needs and improves occupant comfort throughout the year.

The building incorporates a system of mullions that run the entire height, integrating user-controlled panels for natural ventilation. This allows occupants to directly access fresh air. A comprehensive building management system combines environmental control standards, plant monitoring, and a user interface for efficient operations.

SOM guangzhou star river
Star River Headquarters embodies the modern transformation of Pazhou Island’s business district SOM completes star river headquarters as a new addition to guangzhou skyline
the tower’s design integrates with the public plaza, with a glass-enclosed lobby and a signature canopy


architecture and engineering together creates a high-performing structure

SOM completes star river headquarters as a new addition to guangzhou skyline
the pleated facade minimizes solar heat gain while maximizing natural light penetration


sustainable features include a user-controlled natural ventilation system



project info:


project title: Star River Headquarters

architecture: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

location: Guangzhou, China

client: Guangzhou Star River Commercial Investment And Development Co, Ltd.

completion: 2023

photography: © Seth Powers


consultant team

LDI: Guangzhou Design Institution
interiors: ChengChung + Design
contractor: Zhongtian Construction Group Co., Ltd. Lighting: Leox Design Partnership
facade: Shanghai PFT Construction Consulting Co.

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