News flash: The Chicago and Shanghai offices of the architecture giant Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, have been chosen to design a major expansion of the business district in Beijing. And it comes with all the environmental trimmings. Plans call for pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets, a street car system to link the nodal points of the expanded district, and buildings that are “high performance,” meaning they will be more earth friendly in their design and systems. All good news. Except now SOM has to actually make all of this happen, which as anyone who watched the experience of landscape design firm Sasaki at the Olympic site can attest, isn’t going to be easy.
The original plan for the Olympic park was better than this — more organic, more green, more diverse in its breakdown of space. But the Chinese have a strange way of soliciting plans and then messing them up. The Boston-based urban planning firm Sasaki Partners did much of the overall design concept for the Olympic Green. But the company is at pains to let the world know that “Sasaki had no involvement in the design and final implementation of the landscape for the Beijing Olympics,” according to its Web site.
Good luck, SOM.
Image courtesy of SOM.