Atlanta's John Portman & Associates is adding to its list of iconic projects in Shanghai.

Builders began construction Sept. 28 on Atlanta architectural firm John Portman Associates‘ newest design in Shanghai, a 3 million-square-foot complex with four distinct but connected hotels.

The complex is under construction near the central axis of the Shanghai Expo 2010, which showcased China’s commercial capital to more than 70 million people from around the country and across the globe.

While most of the expo’s many pavilions have been removed, the city has embarked on a plan to redevelop the zone along the Huangpu River.

The Portman complex, a key part of this plan, is focusing heavily on integrating the built environment with nature. The hotels have been elevated to provide clear views and to make room for a pedestrian platform that includes gardens and interconnected plazas.

Throughout the past 30 years of working in Shanghai, Portman designs have become some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, including Shanghai Centre,Tomorrow Square and most recently, the Waldorf Astoria on the Bund.

A piling ceremony was held last fall, with construction officially beginning Sept. 28. No financial terms were disclosed. Portman Holdings, a development firm that often brings the architectural firm’s projects to life, is not managing the project. 

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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...