Mecenatpolis, a nearly 300,000 square-meter mixed-use, transit-oriented project in the evolving Hapjeong neighborhood in downtown Seoul, is the latest Jerde Place to open in Asia. Jerde, a Los Angeles-based international architecture design and urban planning firm, is known for its innovative design that integrates local culture and organic public spaces to create popular destinations that attract millions of visitors annually. The firm’s latest mixed-use district sits adjacent to the Hapjeong train station and provides a dynamic, cohesive gathering place for the resurging neighborhood’s diverse community of business professionals, residents, university students, and tourists. Developed by GS Engineering & Construction Corp, Sejin, the 295,615 square-meter Mecenatpolis features three high-rise luxury residential towers and one high-rise class-A office tower above the Jerde-designed open-air mixed-use public realm with retail, dining and vibrant communal spaces. The project’s towers were executed by local Korea firm EAWES.
Anchoring the soaring landmark towers, and providing a new social destination for people is an open-air village comprising nearly 90,000 square meters of retail and dining, as well as an events auditorium and public park for recreational and cultural activities where visitors and residents can gather and engage. The park will serve as an outdoor garden where sculptures from local students will be displayed. Terraced balconies, glass bridges, landscaped roof gardens, open-air spaces, mesmerizing water features and a grand central plaza all reinforce the idea of a fluid and choreographed circulation system at the core of the retail complex. The high-rise towers include over 160,000 square meters of luxury housing units and nearly 50,000 square meters of creative office space.
“We were very thoughtful during the design process about how to successfully integrate the project into the existing urban fabric. The organic design evolved by reinforcing key connections through the site from the station to the surrounding neighborhoods, creating a fluid pedestrian experience within the retail, while making the best use of the location in this emerging neighborhood and next to one of Seoul’s busiest transportation hubs,” says Eduardo Lopez, Jerde senior design principal. “Transit-oriented development can work as a catalyst to revitalize certain areas and that’s how we saw this. By incorporating another layer to this dynamic urban atmosphere, in the most organic way possible, we will bring together the many people who are drawn here to work, live, study, play and visit every day.”
Aesthetically inspired by the elegant form and curve of a natural canyon, Mecenatpolis’ design captures a free-flowing rhythm from top to bottom. Jerde incorporated the region’s age-old concept of a ‘unified well’ to shape the main central plaza that is Mecenatpolis’ core gathering area. It showcases an active water feature and an abundance of open-air public space and restaurant seating areas, designed to draw people into the center. There is also an eye-catching multi-purpose hall, designed as an iconic lantern piece with beautiful wood paneling that sits adjacent to the cultural park and will host frequent events such as concerts and other special performances.
A highlight of the property is the large green park which Jerde incorporated into the design after seeing that parks were noticeably absent from the area. “From our many years working in Seoul, we know that people there like to walk, like to enjoy the outdoors and explore their surroundings,” says Danny Ha, Jerde design principal. “An important priority for us was to create an urban park in the middle of Mecenatpolis that would give people a place to walk, sit and read, and take a break from the busy city to enjoy the lush surroundings. We sought to keep the pedestrian realm authentic to the culture of Seoul and give people something that they could really use and enjoy.”
Mecenatpolis completes a trio of key destinations ringing one of Seoul’s major transit lines that is stimulating investment and revitalization. The others are Daesung’s D-Cube City that opened in September 2011 and Star City that opened in 2006. Jerde’s talent for designing and delivering experiential public spaces within a Korean cultural context is showcased in each of these. The firm has several senior designers from South Korea in its Los Angeles headquarters and design studio who collaborated on Mecenatpolis.
Jerde first entered the South Korean market in 1996 working with Samsung in Seoul. To date, the firm has led design on more than 25 projects throughout the region, including D-Cube City (2011) and Star City (2006) in Seoul; Daegu Color Square Stadium Mall (2011); Changwon City 7 (2008); and Eunpyeong New Town in Seoul, scheduled for completion in 2014. In addition to Samsung, Jerde has been commissioned by leading South Korean multi-national companies Daewoo, Shinsegae, Hyundai and Lotte, and has worked with major construction companies including Posco, GS Engineering & Construction, and Doosan Construction.
Jerde’s other significant mixed-use, transit-oriented urban projects include the award-winning Namba Parks in Osaka, Japan; Zlote Tarasy in Warsaw, Poland; Roppongi Hills in Tokyo; and Kanyon in Istanbul, Turkey.