Cultural: News, Travel & Trendsetters


These two ooh– and ahh-inspiring projects point to the bold nature of new design in China. “Clients in China have been very open to pushing the envelope, and most are thirsty for new ideas and new thinking,” explains NBBJ Managing Partner Steve McConnell of the Seattle office. Early on, he continues, clients focused mainly on “dynamic, captivating, architectural forms” whereas “energy efficiency and strategic workplace solutions took a backseat.” Now, the emphasis has turned increasingly to “holistic solutions in concert with creative forms.”

The AsiaWorld-Expo is a prime example of these creative forms coming to life. Shedding the big, claustrophobic box mold, the space has towering ceilings, eye-catching graphics, and airy, light-filled corridors enhanced by walls of glass. The rigid boundaries of interior and exterior space become blurred in this destination for commerce.

Completed in 2005, the arena and expo center is strategically located as an East Asian business hub. Its versatile design allows for thousands of square feet of convention space, while the 13,500-seat arena hall has two skylit lobby spaces connected by a major concourse. Its moveable seating can be converted easily to a flat floor, if need be.

“As China continues to develop, many Chinese clients are looking for tangible proof that the built environment is more innovative and progressive,” observes Design Partner Jonathan Ward of the Los Angeles office. Ward was the project manager for the Dalian Shide stadium design.

For that stadium, many innovative components have been proposed. The openness of the stadium’s bowl allows spectators to be connected to the surrounding city, while the local community can be a part of the event. Outer walls shelve carbon-reducing living plants that change with the seasons, while inside walls are outfitted with LED panels made functional by onsite renewable energy. The reduction in energy consumption in no way impairs the structure’s beauty. The roof, a system of cables and fabric, provides an intriguing counterpoint to the hard concrete and steel edges of the stadium.

Also known as the Garden Stadium, the design promises open concourses from which sports fans never have to lose visual contact with the action and an environmentally responsible arena as distinct and fantastic as new China deserves.