International Design Firm Creates Visionary ‘Urban Commercial Park’ on Behalf of China Overseas Holdings Limited

Sep 25, 2013

JINAN, CHINA (September 29, 2013) – In a dynamic collaboration between developer China Overseas Holdings Limited, one of the country’s premier companies, and designer The Jerde Partnership, a Los Angeles-based architecture and planning firm, the landmark China Overseas Plaza & Unipark complex celebrates its unveiling ceremony at the North Plaza area of the project in Jinan, Shandong Province.Welcoming key government officials and the general public is the modern Unipark retail and entertainment district.  The adjacent and integrated 33-level China Overseas Plaza Grade-A office tower will be completed in early 2014.  The Jerde Partnership brings its western philosophy of experiential and transformative design to Jinan with an entirely new ‘urban commercial park’ concept for the city to deliver a world-class work-leisure environment that is highlighted by organic gathering spaces, landscaping, indoor/outdoor experiences, and new commercial offerings to this province. 

As the capital of the Shandong Province in eastern China, Jinan has become one of China’s most modern and progressive cities, while continuing to embrace its cultural heritage. The new China Overseas Plaza & Unipark seeks to extend dynamic urban network within the southern portion of Jinan by introducing a community commercial park for the greater Jinan area with a collection of public spaces that celebrate the city’s pride in its culture and traditions.  “This is a signature development for China Overseas, where the exceptionally high standards and desirable environment of the new place represents their brand value and forward-thinking philosophies. Through working with a renowned company in the region, we wanted to achieve a high-level of placemaking for greater China and provide a new destination of metropolitan lifestyle for the people of Jinan,” says Eduardo Lopez, Jerde senior vice president and design principal.               

“Vibrant plazas, open space, and lush landscaping are blended across the entire site and through the unique architectural forms of the Unipark complex, creating an urban commercial park with new retail offerings and vital community spaces,” says Lopez. “We intricately studied and organized the open spaces and tenant configurations both horizontally and vertically to ensure the center maintained a constant flow of pedestrian activity.  Unipark will be a place that is always buzzing with a vibrant social realm.” 

At approximately 180,000 square meters of total gross floor area on a nearly 37,000 square-meter site, the project’s design strategies produce a narrative of a modern, smart-density village for the nearly 80,000 square-meter Unipark retail center. The village concept was developed by composing a collection of distinct buildings layered together with complex geometry, patterns, texture and colors that informed the architecture. Through a careful balance of introducing open-air and enclosed climate-controlled plazas, bridges and walkways within multi-level and curvilinear spaces, visitors encounter an experiential journey of engaging spaces and discovery. Set along the major 2nd ring road in the city, Unipark’s design further promotes visibility with activated public spaces and landscape to engage the urban edge, along with buildings that terrace upwards from the street towards the adjacent hills in symbolic harmony with the surrounding landforms.  In concert with the layered terracing and dynamic forms, a retail vertical ‘dual-anchor’ layout was conceived with a major market as the below ground tenant and state-of-the-art cinema and entertainment plaza at the upper level to provide a synergy and activated center from top to bottom.   

Completing the overall new district is the landmark 33-level China Overseas Plaza office tower, scheduled for full completion in 2014. Rising above Unipark with sensational views of the public center below, the tower is designed as an extension of the horizontal vocabulary established in the retail podium to deliver an integrated and elegant beacon for China Overseas. The tower façade design is composed of a series of differentiating bands of deep horizontal mullion fins, while the interiors offer dramatic views of the surrounding natural landscape and city skyline. 

“Our goal in China is to enhance social sustainability and urban renewal through the mixed-use districts we design in collaboration with developers, city planners, and local experts. Partnering with visionary companies like China Overseas that are interested in transferring their brand values and innovation into places for people, remains our continued focus throughout the region,” says Alex Yong, Jerde China general manager out of the firm’s Shanghai office. “The retail sector is an important driver of these objectives, and we work closely with China companies to evolve the typical model into a more integrated space that combines new programming and leasing concepts with public experiences.” 

Jerde continues to bring its experiential design concepts to the increasingly advanced China market, with several other major works being realized, including the near fully completed Lerthai Center in Shijiazhuang; Northstar Xin He Delta in Changsha; GuoTai Plaza in Chongqing; Hilton Jiangmen Resort & Villas near Guangzhou; Lonsen Plaza in Shanghai; and Haitang Bay Resort in Sanya.  The new Jerde-designed places throughout China are positioned to further promote contextual architecture and advanced placemaking in the region.