The Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower (simplified Chinese: 东方明珠塔; traditional Chinese: 東方明珠塔; pinyin: Dōngfāng Míngzhūtǎ; Shanghainese: Tonfon Mintsyta, official name: 东方明珠广播电视塔) is a TV tower in Shanghai. Its located at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong New Area by the side of Huangpu River, opposite The Bund, makes it a distinct landmark in the area. Its principal designers were Jiang Huan Chen, Lin Benlin, and Zhang Xiulin. Construction began in 1991, and the tower was completed in 1995.
At 468 m (1,536 feet) high, it was the tallest structure in China from 1994–2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center. It is classified as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. The tower is brightly lit in different LED sequences at night. On 7 July 2007, Oriental Pearl Tower was host to the Chinese Live Earth concert.
The tower features 11 spheres, big and small. The two largest spheres, along the length of the tower, have diameters of 50 m (164 ft) for the lower and 45 m (148 ft) for the upper. They are linked by three columns, each 9 m (30 ft) in diameter. The highest sphere is 14 m (46 ft) in diameter.
The entire tower is supported by three enormous columns that start underground.
The tower has fifteen observatory levels. The highest (known as the Space Module) is at 351 m (1148 ft). The lower levels are at 263 m (863 ft) (Sightseeing Floor) and at 90 m (295 ft) (Space City). There is a revolving restaurant at the 267 m (876 ft) level. The project also contains exhibition facilities and a small shopping center. There is also a 20-room hotel called the Space Hotel between the two large spheres. The upper observation platform has an outside area with a 1.5 inch glass floor.
An antenna, broadcasting TV and radio programs, extends the construction by another 118 m (387 ft) to a total height of 468 m (1,535 ft).
Chinese symbolism in the design
The chief of the jury board said that the design reminded him of a verse of the Tang Dynasty poem "Pipa Song" by Bai Juyi about the wonderful sprinkling sound of a pipa instrument, like pearls, big and small falling on a jade plate (大珠小珠落玉盘/大珠小珠落玉盤/dà zhū xiǎo zhū luò yù pán). However, the designer Jiang Huancheng says that he did not have the poem in mind when designing the tower.
On 13 April 2010 the antenna at the top of tower caught fire at around 02:00. The fire was then put out by firefighters. No casualties were reported. Prior to the fire there was a series of thunderstorms.