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WUHAN, CHINA-Construction has started for a 1.3-million-sf mixed-use retail, entertainment and office development in Wuhan, China, a city of eight million located about 700 miles due west of Shanghai, along the Yangtze River. Scheduled for completion in the fall of 2004, it will be the biggest retail/office project in the city.

Designed by Rothenberg Sawasy Architects of Los Angeles and developed by Beijing Hulian, the complex includes a nine-story department store; six floors of specialty shops; night clubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues; several restaurants, and; four floors of office space.

Rothenberg Sawasy Design Principal John Deenihan describes the project as merging western and Asian influences by incorporating U.S. retail and entertainment concepts, such as having themed floors or sections in the development, with Chinese cultural realities such as small shops, large restaurants (ranging up to 30,000 sf) and the bicycle, the people’s main form of transportation. “Our goal was to produce a casual streetscape environment with a European ambience while still respecting local cultural design principles such as feng shui,” says Deenihan.

The exterior of the development will primarily consist of glass and aluminum, with accents of ceramic tile and granite. As is the common Chinese practice for commercial buildings, the project will be further covered with extensive advertising graphics and large screen electronic billboards.

The developer describes Wuhan is an important industrial and trade hub for central China that can easily support a large-scale project of this scope. Beijing Hulian expects the complex will attract major European retailers. It should also attract the residents of Wuhan, which is one of China’s “Cauldron Cities,” so-designated for its exceedingly hot summers.

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