The Chicago and China offices of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) were named the winner of an international design competition to expand the Beijing Central Business District (CBD). The competition was sponsored by the Chaoyang District Government and the Beijing CBD Administration Committee. Seven teams of the world’s leading urban planners, urban designers and architects were invited to participate. Philip Enquist, FAIA, Partner-in-Charge of Urban Design and Planning for SOM, led this effort.
The SOM plan calls for the establishment of three new districts anchored by signature parks and green boulevards. New modes of public transportation are proposed, including express commuter rail service between the Beijing Capital International Airport, the CBD, and high speed rail service at Beijing South Station. A new streetcar system is proposed to conveniently link all areas of the CBD. A network of small, walkable blocks is proposed to establish a pedestrian-friendly scale for development and every street would be bicycle friendly.
The SOM plan defines new strategies for building municipal infrastructure and high performance buildings. Implementation of the plan could reduce energy consumption within the district by 50%, reduce water consumption by 48%, reduce landfill waste by 80%, and result in a 50% reduction in carbon emissions. Reduction in emissions from office buildings alone would equate to a reduction of 215,000 tons of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of planting 14 million adult trees.
SOM’s vision for the Beijing CBD provides the framework that will enable China’s capital city to grow as a global center for commerce, yet be a green and ecological setting for healthy life.
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