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Scott Duncan

Scott Duncan

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
“Guiyang World Trade Center”
Greg Yager

Greg Yager

Senior Vice President
“The Guiyang Riverside Theatre Project”
Thomas Balsley

Thomas Balsley

Principal Designer
Thomas Balsley Associates
“Macro-Policy to Micro-Implementation: China’s Inward Migration in Guiyang”

Session Summary

The rapid population growth and urban migration of China has given rise to a number of burgeoning second- and third-tier cities. One such city is Guiyang, a city of more than four million in Southwest China that serves as the economic center of the Guizhou Provence. This session focused on the Guiyang World Trade Center, a 380-meter mixed-use tower anchoring an entirely new district, and the Guiyang Riverside Theatre project, which will reinvigorate the old city center as both a cultural destination and business hub.

Scott Duncan, Design Partner, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, began by introducing the city of Guiyang, describing its rapid population growth and the resultant uptick in real estate investment. Duncan said of the city, “This is an American moment for China. Guiyang is the Denver of the future.” He went on to introduce the architectural and urban design imperatives that shaped the design of the Guiyang World Trade Center, a development that will encompass a mixture of low- and high-rise buildings, ranging between commercial, retail, and residential functions. Duncan showed colorful renderings of multi-layered shopping concourses, green spaces, and of course, a 380-meter landmark tower. Duncan explained the selection of the tower’s tube-in-tube structural system, and the benefits of the opaque façade, which models predict will greatly reduce occurrences of intolerable and perceptible glare throughout the day for occupants.

“The development community, as well as the market, is driving use of glass. However, there’s an increase in – and I hope a trend in high-rises – more opacity in our buildings, and I think it makes a lot of sense,” Duncan noted.

Greg Yager, Senior Vice President, RTKL, commenced with a description of the Guiyang Riverside Theatre, contending that the positive contributions of a vertical development carry little value without due consideration for the urban experience at ground level. Regarding the planning for the large-scale development, Yager made it clear that, “It’s not just a project – it’s an urban core.” He explained the importance of the project’s retail podium, which will generate a unique presence through innovative tenant design concepts, communal amenities, and the thoughtful fusion of public spaces. Yager characterized a central challenge in planning the project, “Podiums add the experience and lifestyle value to a development . . . How do we bring these public spaces within the private realm, and maximize the value?”

Finally, Thomas Balsley, Principal Designer, Thomas Balsley Associates, discussed the overarching demographic trends and national priorities – which were clearly outlined in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan – that justified an innovative urban design strategy for Guiyang’s urban core, one that seamlessly integrates the public riverfront, a series of new city parks, various cultural amenities, a network of tree-lined boulevards, and the city’s existing and future tall buildings. Balsley emphasized that the sustainable elements of this plan are intended to be manifested from the city and district scale all the way down to the human scale. The most far-reaching of these green systems is a district-wide rainwater collection network that directs runoff to areas for aquifer infiltration and bioremediation.

Balsley concluded, “Hundreds of cities in China will experience tremendous growth in the next 15 years. The impact of this will depend on their ability to achieve sustainability.”

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