It’s crucial for foreign architects to have offices in China with staffs that include younger, innovative Chinese designers, says Gary Larson, a senior principal with MulvannyG2 Architecture, in the firm’s “Design at Work” newsletter. According to Larson, here’s why:
The growing sophistication of Chinese designers
Western design thinking has become more seamlessly dovetailed with Chinese cultural underpinnings
China’s more discerning reception of architecture
In China’s building boom of the past 20 years, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing represents both a high point and a turning point in China’s fascination with Western design. Foreign architects designed the Olympic Games’ major athletic structures and important civic and public buildings. These designs resonate in the collective memory of the Olympics as much, if not more, than the games and athletes do. Yet, post-Olympics, not all Western work is applauded and accepted, as before, without criticism. Today, the Chinese want to see their rich culture and heritage expressed in major new work, and that desire cues a new level of collaboration with foreign architects. MulvannyG2 has experienced that in creating Fujian Power and Electric Co.’s headquarters and the China Construction Bank, Larson says.
Higher expectations for client service and project delivery
While plentiful opportunities for that collaboration exist, competition among foreign architects is keen. That competition makes the foreign architect’s local office in China even more important because, as fees become more competitive, the ability to serve clients more completely, locally, grows in importance. And as the general level of expectation of quality from the consumer rises and delivery of quality by the construction industry increases, the need to have design and technical design expertise on the ground becomes imperative.
More influence on China’s sustainable future
A new level of collaboration among Chinese and foreign architects promises a steadily improving design environment, one that would benefit a project with sustainable goals. Characteristic Chinese determination can bring this new design excellence to bear on the country’s issues of growth and resource consumption. Indeed, nationally announced plans for sustainability and the ambitions of foreign architects and young Chinese designers will hopefully allow China to leapfrog the sustainable progress of today’s developed and developing nations.