Shanghai World Expo Site Transforms

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Shanghai World Expo Site Transforms

The site where roughly 70 million people attended the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 is now being transformed into a sprawling, mixed-use district. Located along a stretch of the Huangpu River in Pudong, the redevelopment aims to turn the Expo’s quixotic theme, “Better City, Better Life,” into a built reality.

Construction is currently underway on a series of office towers, apartment complexes, and upscale hotels, as well as a massive open-air retail complex running along the Expo’s axis. “We’re going to have all the major types of city functions close together,” says Pierluca Maffey, a project manager at Atlanta-based John Portman & Associates, the firm that won a design competition in 2011 for a cluster of four hotels adjacent to the retail strip.

Two of the hotels, as well as many office and retail spaces, are slated for completion by 2016. Poured-in-place concrete structures, the hotels will connect to a steel-frame landscaped platform, with high-end retail shops running underneath. Though all of the structures will have access to the elevated outdoor gardens, the bowl-shaped hotel will also have an interior courtyard with trees and vegetation. “This is going to be high-end destination,” says Maffey. “It is going to be a new iconic image for Shanghai.”

From the Expo’s early planning stages in 2002, the Chinese government emphasized the long-term vitality of the site, wary of the history of vacancy and dereliction at former Expo locations—most famously in Seville. Many of the temporary pavilions in Shanghai have been dismantled, with some notable exceptions, including the Italian and Saudi Arabian structures, which have been converted into exhibition spaces. The former China Pavilion is now the country’s largest art museum with almost 690,000 square feet of exhibition space. A former power station, which served as an exhibition space during the Expo, has also been converted into a 440,000-square-foot contemporary art museum. Both opened to the public in October.

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