Awarded after an international competition, the Beijing Finance Center Master Plan creates an international destination in West Beijing. The project, which includes a mix of uses—housing, retail, hotel office and cultural facilities—is focused in terms of the landscape design on a central park known as “The Heart” of western Beijing. SWA’s work paralleled that of SOM, the building architect, and integrated urban design and landscape architecture into both the physical and cultural structure of the design. The large public park is a space which provides both an open public realm and a functional court yard for the district. A large civic plaza, which features a computer-animated fountain and light show, fronts Finance Street while a series of intimate courts center each urban block.
Combining contemporary landscape design with traditional Chinese garden philosophy, the Beijing Finance Street Park creates a unique international destination for Beijing’s cultural identity. The design concept, Architecture inside Landscape and Landscape inside Architecture, is a contemporary interpretation of the Chinese tradition of “Borrowed Landscape.” The design incorporates Borrowed Landscape in four specific ways:
- Scenery Overlapping Scenery: In the park and architecture, paths connect one to another. Straight tree rows and clipped hedges are contemporary interpretation of the Chinese garden art of extending walls and buildings into the garden.
- Gardens within Gardens: Small gardens are used within larger gardens, allowing smaller, more intimate spaces for fewer people to gather.
- Water Cascading/Water Reflecting: A series of water elements strengthens the relationship of architecture and landscape. A water wall at the amphitheater visually extends the architecture into the landscape while pools at the base of certain buildings poetically merge architecture, landscape, and sky.
- Planting and the Changing Seasons: Plants play an important role in the landscape and are used as both spatial and natural elements. Linear planting elements create both large and small spaces while landforms create sculptural spaces and open lawns create outdoor active spaces. Both deciduous and evergreen plants are used to express the change of seasons and rejuvenating qualities of the landscape.
Approximately 30 percent of the project area is located over garage structure and required a special approach in thinking about planting and landscape construction. SWA coordinated closely with the architect to accommodate the planting depths and waterproofing required to accomplish the design intent.
The initial phase of this project included a master planning effort that established the locations for the convention center expansion, as well as the expansion of a 70,000-plus-seat domed NFL football stadium (Chicago Bears), and a 1200- room hotel. The expansion program called for the addition of over 900,000 square feet of exhibit space and 160,000 square f...
Milton Street Park
Milton Street Park is a 1.2-acre linear urban park alongside the Ballona Creek Bike Trail in Los Angeles, California. The plan incorporates numerous green-design elements, including the use of recycled materials, native planting, flow-through planters and treatment alongside the 1,000-foot-long, 45-foot-wide stretch of land. A variety of special elements such...
325 5th Avenue Plaza
A new residential tower has risen across the street from the Empire State Building. As a zoning incentive, a new public plaza was included to attract and accommodate the area’s tourists as well as its diverse office and residential neighborhood. The space is defined by a clean, contemporary design composition of spaces, elements and custom furniture meant to f...
Houston Green Loop
With the coming expansion and realignment of the highways around Downtown Houston, SWA identified the opportunity to enact a bold vision: a multi-use branded connectivity system that will leverage the immense reconstruction investment. SWA’s concept creates a continuous pedestrian loop over, under, and around the downtown highway system, thus redirecting the u...