Essential Architecture- The Bund, Shanghai

Asia Building Formerly the Asian Oil Building

formerly originally the McBain Building, housed the Shanghai offices of Royal Dutch Shell and Asiatic Petroleum Company.


Moorhead and Halse


No. 1, The Bund, Shanghai, China




Edwardian  Beaux-Arts




Office Building
  Above image ©Paul Pak-hing Lee - 1997
  Above image reproduced with the generous permission of Simon Fieldhouse. Copyright Simon Fieldhouse.
The six-story Asia Building is a building in the Bund, in the Chinese city of Shanghai. It was built in 1916 and later housed the Shanghai Metallurgical Designing & Research Institute.
The McBain Building was better known in old Shanghai as the Shell or Asiatic Petroleum Company Building. The Shell International Petroleum Company which was established in Shanghai in 1907 continued to operate in the building up until the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

The building was owned by the George McBain Company. George McBain had arrived in the Far East in the 1870s to work for a bank in Hong Kong and soon diverted his interests to shipping on the Yangtsze River. In addition he developed tobacco and oil-producing businesses in Sumatra. George McBain was highly respected , beloved by his employees whom he treated with kindness and consideration.

The building began to be erected in June 1913 and after a battle with the SMC about the appropriate installation of sanitary fittings the seven-storey Renaissance-style building designed by Moorhead and Halse was completed in 1915. It contained a series of flats on its top floor reserved for Shell executives. An eighth floor was added in 1939.

The back part of the building now houses a variety of companies including AIA. The front part with the Bund entrance is still vacant awaiting new tenants. All that is left of the past are two bronze plaques hearing the Shell log which are now housed in the Shanghai Municipal History Museum.