New York, NY
Sited at the eastern entrance to the central business district in Beijing, the Gemdale Plaza project was constructed in 2007 as a business hub but recognizing the retail potential of the site as a means of capturing the burgeoning growth of the surrounding area, the client proposed the idea of transforming the conference center podium into a dynamic shopping destination.
The structural concrete podium, designed by SOM, posed initial challenges when came to maximizing the leasable space per floor plate. The design solution was ultimately influenced by the mimetic gestures of the towers in relationship to the street level. Circulation as the dominant factor led to a scheme that allows visitors to flow freely throughout the space, flanked on both sides by unique retail spaces that provide for a unique shape as they respond to the existing structural grid but maintain a high-level of efficiency.
The articulation of the exterior of the podium follows this flow. Anchored by a three-story glass volume at the southeast corner of the site, the massing gives the first impression of movement through an articulated form that responds to its façade breaks and angles but maintain a sense of rigidity that pays respect to the flanking towers beyond. Picking up on the cues of the bends in the tower forms, the façade uses its controlled creases and forms as a mechanism in controlling scale on the site by blurring the floor plates, giving the podium the feeling that it is much more grounded than it appears. Materiality is conceived of as supporting the role of controlling scale but through the layered façade technique the glazed exterior provides exciting reflections while the mesh acts to maintain transparency to the interior while providing ample sun-shading. At night the layers transform into a vibrant light show, with LEDs working in patterns to further convey the movements of the façade.
Location: Beijing, China