Shanghai, China

I emerge from the cool if urine-scented underground to sticky streets, wandering along sterile tree-lined streets in the shadow of looming office towers still in various stages of construction. I eventually find my way across (or actually under) eight lanes of traffic and take an elevator up to the tip of the Jin Mao Tower.

The 88-story building was just a steel shell when I last visited in 1997; its spire capped only a few weeks earlier. Now it is the one genuinely stirring building on the skyline, massive and awe-inspiring, austere and pragmatic. And only slightly reminiscent of something that the Nazi’s would have dreamed up on one of their better days.

At least they avoided the temptation to stick a flying saucer on the roof.

The view from Floor 88 is mightily impressive, though the effect loses some of its luster when visibility barely reaches to the Huangpu River’s opposite banks. The one highlight of the visit is the spectacular view down into the Grand Hyatt’s 350-foot tall atrium. Sort of monumental Blade Runner-ish.

Photographed March 25, 2005 with a Canon EOS-1Ds III camera and 16-35mm f/2.8 Lens. Exposure 4 seconds at f/8

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