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Guo Jianxiang, a Design Leader of Transportation Facilities

Date:2014-05-30 0comments Click:10020


While acknowledging the fact that the Chinese architectural industry has undergone the golden age of leapfrog development over the last two or three decades, we also have to give a sigh that many excellent architects are overburdened with too many design tasks. As the Deputy Chief Architect of East China Architectural Design and Research Institute (ECADI), Guo Jianxiang always seems to have too many things on his plate. People have the impression that he speaks fast to discuss designs, drawings and materials with others. Thanks to his assiduity and devotion, Guo has forged his way ahead in his 20-plus-year career and created many “firsts” in the realm of design, which makes him the leading designer of transportation facilities in China.


Pudong Airport: The first step for the original design of super large projects in China 

The design of the T1 and T2 buildings of Shanghai Pudong International Airport serves as a critical page in Guo Jianxiang’s career. The T1 building is jointly designed by ADPI France and ECADI, with APDI responsible for the design concept and general scheme and ECADI responsible for design details. Because domestic architectural concepts and technology are relatively backwards, the cooperation model in which the foreign party dominates the design is commonly seen in many domestic public projects even today. However, Guo Jianxiang and the ECADI team were not willing to act as an assistant on this project. On one hand, they gained technological and design accumulation from the architectural practice at T1 of Pudong Airport. But on the other, they actively sought opportunities to fulfill their design ambitions. In 2003, during the bidding invitation of the Phase 2 project of Pudong Airport, the ECADI team seized the hard-won opportunity. Originally, they only acted as a consultant who provided technical services and design consultancy. However, based on their deep understanding of the project, Guo Jianxiang and his coworkers brought forth many constructive ideas. In addition, ECADI had participated in the design and several renovations of Hongqiao Airport, so the airport group decided to assign the original design and general contract of design tasks to ECADI who would take full responsibility.


The T2 building of Pudong Airport witnessed the first super large international airport hub project in China that was originally designed and contracted by a domestic design institute. When recalling the experience, Guo Jianxiang said emotionally, “We collaborated with foreign architects on the T1 building of Pudong Airport, but worked independently on T2 from the conception phase. The two cases brought totally different experiences, yet they both greatly helped improve our abilities. We feel grateful to the owner from Shanghai. Their insight and determination offered a great opportunity as well as a challenge to ECADI.” Guo Jianxiang and the ECADI team didn’t abuse the trust of the owner. The result is that the design scheme of the T2 building extends on the basis of T1. While fully displaying the aesthetics of volume, space and strength, the building also expresses the efficiency and modernity of transportation facilities. T2 of Pudong Airport simultaneously echoes and contrasts with the design of T1 with its continuously curved roof. The new terminal uses the concept imagery of a flock of flying seagulls to symbolize the rise and rapid development of Shanghai. Instead of using a large amount of metal materials in the airport building, the interior design of T2 emphasizes smoothness, efficiency, quietness and human orientation. Guo Jianxiang said, “The distinctive ceiling design of T2 at Pudong Airport boasts a special color application and a unique ceiling shape. It is crucial for interior designers to express their concepts with color and form. During the ceiling design planning, several stylistic questions arose: 1. the color selection have to create a contrast with that of T1; and 2. the color must be warm, comfortable and human-oriented for passengers to accept easily. Additionally, during the construction of T2, we adopted a green design principle to our building design. We believe that the wood grain color we chose accurately reflects the overall green design of the terminal building.”



Hongqiao Transportation Hub: Domestic pioneer of comprehensive transportation hub design

In 2006, when Shanghai Hongqiao Comprehensive Transportation Hub was holding international bidding for the project’s planning and design, ECADI and L&B from the US won the planning task of the project. ECADI then started to work on the original design of Hongqiao Transportation Hub and in the end was awarded the general design and coordination work of this super large-scale comprehensive transportation hub. And so, Guo Jianxiang encountered the most important architectural project in his life. However, before he had time to indulge himself in the joy of victory, severe challenges came one after another. Hongqiao Comprehensive Transportation Hub is a world-class large transportation hub that integrates railroad, highway and airport. As one of the largest projects in the world, Hongqiao Transportation Hub became an unprecedented project in China on a super large scale, complex functionality and tight schedule. It covers all transportation means except water. The integration of aviation, railroad, maglev, metro and highway enables it to handle a daily passenger output of 1.1 million by involving 11 different functional buildings, 1.42 million square meters of floor space, 64 possible connections and 56 transfer patterns. How does one organize such a complicated passenger flow and meet the operational requirements of the entire transportation hub? Guo Jianxiang and his design team grasped the core factor: transfer. He said, “The most basic consideration is to ensure a more concise, efficient and convenient transfer process so that the arrangement of each functional area will become clear and reasonable.” Hongqiao Transportation Hub provides an effective guarantee for efficient transfer, thanks to its three-story transfer design, distinctive space layout, and multi-entrance, multi-exit and multi-lane arrangement.


The planning and design of Hongqiao Transportation Hub represent the intensification of land resources, supporting facilities and urban environmental resources while the design concept of “signature functionality” further represents the human-oriented design principle. Today, with the rapid urbanization process of China, this classic project is an interesting case upon which people can ponder. Guo Jianxiang thinks that though Hongqiao Transportation Hub pioneers the domestic comprehensive transportation hub design, it differs from similar projects in the country. “It is a natural hub, as it originally covered the functions of high-speed rail, airport and maglev, and required a hub to be built. The far-sighted policy of the Shanghai municipal government allowed these functional buildings to be arranged together. We can say it is an organic organization but not a deliberately constructed transportation hub. The then-owner and municipal government stressed that the comprehensive transportation hub didn’t have to have large and grand spaces but should take process and function as the priority. This was a higher requirement for us.” The design team adhered to the design concept of “signature functionality” and placed emphasis on the arrangement of various functions. The entire Hongqiao Transportation Hub extends horizontally. It organically combines each functional unit, including the three main transportation forms of high-speed rail, maglev and airport, and the supplementary transportation means of metro, bus and parking, as well as office and commercial areas. With clear functional units, convenient transfer and unobstructed views, all functional areas can be reached easily. The general design of the building features simplicity, straightforwardness, refinement and dynamic, while its reasonable dimensions and agreeable environment fully embody the human-oriented and green design concept. Inside the building, which fully shows the characteristics and functions of various modern transportation facilities, passengers are allowed to freely and flexibly choose their means of transportation. It offers not only a platform for passengers to transfer, but also a space for modern transportation to develop.



In Guo Jianxiang’s point of view, function is the most essential part of a transportation building to which the most attention should be given. “Designers must first have a clear idea of the functional flow of a building, so as to ensure efficient application. Architectural design comes after that. The design of transportation facilities must also be connected with human behaviors, so that a convenient, efficient and comfortable space will be built by satisfying the needs of users.” Through his own architectural practice, he believes that domestic architects can completely handle super large comprehensive transportation hub projects and do them well. Compared with foreign counterparts, Chinese architects have advantages in local culture, architectural design and project coordination management. Chinese design firms like ECADI, who learn quickly and grow fast, will surely win recognition and respect from clients and dazzle on the Chinese and world design stages with their excellent performance.

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