Designing for an emerging city: The new Hai Tian Center Honoring the Past, Present and Future

Lawrence Malcic
Senior Vice President, Director of Design
HOK, Inc., London

With China’s economic prosperity, urban growth and expansion has moved far beyond “Tier One” cities. The “Upper Second Tier” cities like Qingdao now exemplifies the next big phase of growth. Proposals for new airport, train terminal, CBD are all in simultaneous development, constantly changing the city’s physical environment as well as its social and economic construct.

In this presentation, we’ll share our experience in designing a major urban renewal development in Qingdao. The project is composed of three iconic towers, one to become the tallest in Shandong Province. We’ll demonstrate the many levels of complexity in the design and planning of two Hotels, Office and Residential space, Shopping Mall, Museum and Observation Deck, a plan that fits together in an organized, coherent narrative.

Designing the tallest tower and the most dominant development in the city skyline comes with great responsibility. The towers need to represent a city’s aspiration, as outlined in the 2016 international forum “Design for Qingdao”, while remembering its past. Our design is deeply rooted and inspired by the site’s unique oceanfront location and the old Hai Tian Center, an important part of the city’s historical heritage, which we embodied and reinterpreted into the new development. Resulting in a forward-looking sustainable supertall, with LEED Gold certification as well as China’s 3-star Green Label, that will come to symbolize the new Qingdao.

We, as architects, when creating tall, large-scale, complex multidiscipline developments in fast-developing cities, must pause to acknowledge, engage and reflect on the city’s history and its culture, striving to improve a neighborhood with strong design and sustainable building processes while creating an experience that speaks to the city’s past, present and future.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation