This mixed-use facility in the Qinghai special economic zone is the latest Portman project to open in China. 

A hotel and mixed-use complex designed by Atlanta-based John Portman & Associates has opened in one of China’s most promising new economic zones in the city of Shenzhen

Located about an hour’s drive from Hong Kong, the Qianhai district is designated by the central government to provide a laboratory for testing the liberalization of China’s financial regulations.

Those availing themselves of these new benefits might find themselves staying in a 356-room J.W. Marriott anchoring the Qianhai Haiyi Plaza, a waterfront mixed-use developing designed by Mr. Portman’s firm. The plaza also includes a 29-story apartment tower. 

Portman, which is also responsible for much of Atlanta’s skyline, has been active in China since the 1980s after founding architect John C. Portman Jr. was part of a committee in Atlanta that hosted Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping during his landmark visit in 1979. A reciprocal visit to China helped open the door, and Mr. Portman’s son, Jack, pioneered the offices of its affiliated development company in Hong Kong. The Portman Shanghai Centre opened in the early 1990s as one the country’s first major foreign developments. 

The new property shows how the firm has come full circle in its relationships with China: Shenzhen’s breakneck growth over the past 35 years was enabled by its role as Mr. Deng’s first testing ground for market reforms that opened China’s economy in the 1980s. 

Portman Holdings, a separate development firm also founded by Mr. Portman, recently said Chinese investors were backing an upcoming hotel renovation project in Atlanta. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...