Thursday, March 19, 2009

Design and architectural finds in Shanghai

Shanghai is recognized for its futuristic, Jetsons-like, Pudong skyline, characterized by the Pearl Tower, and most recently by the Jin Mao Tower and the new Shanghai Financial Center. As Shanghai continues to pop up with new city landscapes (especially with the deadline for the World Expo rolling around in 2010), the city is sure to see new innovative design and materials for skyscraper architecture that makes you just say "wow". I admire Shanghai for its plentiful and diverse architectural aesthetic and design spaces. A few places to check out...

A good friend of mine recommended the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre, which boasts a very cool model of the city as envisioned in 2020. 

Definitely recommend taking a tour of the Shanghai Municipal History Museum in the basement of the Pearl Tower, which gives a nice overview of the city's history and culture (in the cross style of Epcot Center, Disney world and Madame Tussaud's Wax museum), touching upon some significant details of the aftermath of the Opium Wars in the 19th century and the influence of the foreign concessions in shaping Shanghai life.

Shanghai is host to many very beautifully designed hotels that puts visitors in a time warp. To experience Shanghai during the development of the British concession, and get a feel for 1930's Shanghai, I recommend the Astor House Hotel. Enjoy pictures of Albert Einstein and other celebrity guests who passed their time in the hotel. Be sure to check out the ballroom, too-- MAD Titanic. For a more glamourous art-deco feel, check out the Mansion Hotel (word on the street is Diane Von Furstenburg is a frequent guest). And of course, the Jin Mao Tower is spectacular, with the Grand Hyatt Hotel completely hollowed out from the lobby, beginning on floor 53 up to floor 88. If you look down you can enjoy the echoes of the jazz piano bar and experience somewhat terrifying vertigo.

Happy explorations!

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