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LOS ANGELES-Los Angeles-based Rothenberg Sawasy Architects has been chosen to design a 2.1 million-sf mixed-use complex in China that will bring retail, entertainment and residential uses to the Beijing suburb of TongZhou.

The $140 million project, the largest mixed-use development in the working-class suburb, is among 10 projects the firm currently is building on the Chinese mainland, John Deenihan, a principal with the architectural firm, tells GlobeSt.com. The firm is also working on large-scale projects in Chongqing, Wuhan and Haikou City on Hainan Island. The first phase of the TongZhou project will consist of a 280-unit tower located atop a department store with a basement supermarket and underground parking. A second phase will include additional retail space and a residential tower with 210 units along with recreational amenities. An office tower, entertainment complex and additional retail will complete the third phase, which will include parks, plazas and open space designed to accommodate special events and celebrations.

Rothenberg Sawasy Architects is one of the few large US-based architectural firms operating in China. Deenihan says he began working in China in 1995 when he was asked to go there to help design a water park. That project never got off the ground but it led to a relationship with several Chinese developers that eventually resulted in the firm designing several shopping malls and retail outlets.

Although Deenihan travels with an interpreter, he says the most difficult thing about conveying his firm’s design concepts to the Chinese is the language barrier that leaves little room for nuances. To offset that problem, Deenihan says the architectural firm is currently considering opening an office in Beijing.

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