A person walking through a building.

Gensler Design Forecast Beijing: Shaping the Future of Cities

Editor’s note: This post is part of Gensler’s Design Forecast Local, a series of hyper local conversations with our clients about the topics that matter most in our cities.

To tackle some of the toughest challenges facing cities, Gensler has identified four areas where we can make a lasting and positive difference: Climate Change, the Future of Mobility, Connected Cities, and Housing and Homelessness/Social Impact. On Nov. 7, 2019, Gensler’s Beijing office hosted the event, "Design Forecast: Shaping the Future of Cities," which focused on two of these themes, Connected Cities and Social Impact. Participants discussed these topics, and possible design solutions, in a TED Talk style presentation and panel discussion with local researchers, business executives, and real estate industry leaders.

Gensler China leaders deliver the opening presentation for Gensler Bejing's Design Forecast Local event
Greater China Co-Regional Managing Principals Peter Weingarten and Xiaomei Li delivered the opening presentation on how Gensler is shaping the future of cities.

CONNECTED CITIES: Smart cities must be human cities.

The Connected Cities panel discussed the relationship between technological developments and the human experience, asking whether we sacrifice too much privacy while pursuing the convenience of connected cities. Dajun Zu, deputy general manager, CITIC Business Management Co., Ltd., highlighted the advantages of smart city technologies in promoting urban renewal. Rong Jia, CEO of HiWork, said that the interaction of connected cities and social impact should be considered concurrently — rather than separately.

The future city will be people-oriented. The value of low-efficiency products will be increased through urban renewal to meet the needs of consumers, improve space efficiency, and help realize investors’ returns.
— Zhixin Meng, general manager, Shi Lian Ming De Consulting
Panelists discuss the topic of connected cities
Connected Cities panelists (from left to right): Hong Tian, studio director, Gensler Beijing; Fangyong Chen, Dean of Urban Regeneration Research Academy; Zhixin Meng, general manager, Shi Lian Ming De Consulting; Rong Jia, CEO of HiWork; and Dajun Zu, deputy general manager, CITIC Business Management Co., Ltd.
SOCIAL IMPACT: Cultural buildings must be adaptable to meet diverse needs.

The Social Impact panel discussed the impact of cultural and art space to society. He Xiao, general manager of Jin Rong Ji, Financial Street Group, talked about how cultural buildings must be adaptable, adopting unique financial cultural symbols to reflect the image of enterprise, taking into account social and environmental context, and gathering diverse groups through social activities.

There is not too much commercial consideration when promoting art, and art creation in public space is often the society's responsibility. It provides a good venue for cultural exchanges at home and abroad.
— Guanglei Xu, leasing director, Parkview Green
A panelist discusses the sustainable design for the Parkview Green Complex in China
Guanglei Xu, director of Commercial and Office Leasing, Parkview Green, shared insights into the design process for Parkview Green Complex, the first mixed-use LEED Platinum project in China.
SOCIAL IMPACT: Cultural and art space is integral to society.

The Social Impact panel also discussed the influence of Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD) to future development. According to Lei Chen, deputy director, Beijing CBD Land Resource Development Center, Beijing’s CBD has nearly 260 enterprises from 40 industries across production, service, and manufacturing, thus creating opportunities for exchanges and new industry promotion. However, there are only 16 art and culture centers in Beijing’s CBD, compared to 266 in New York. Chen said that it is necessary to continuously improve ancillary facilities and increase greenbelts, art venues, and public spaces. Artists and creative workers need cultural spaces to gather, create, and exchange new ideas.

Panelists discuss the topic of social impact
Social Impact panelists (left to right): Jessica Shen, studio director, Gensler Beijing; Dong Xiao, executive director, Urban Land Institute; He Xiao, general manager, Jin Rong Ji, Financial Street Group; Guanglei Xu, director of Commercial and Office Leasing of Parkview Green, and Lei Chen, deputy director, Beijing CBD Land Resource Development Center.
SOCIAL IMPACT: Second- and third-tier cities and rural townships have room for development.

The Social Impact panel also discussed the interplay between urban and rural integration and development. Economic entities in China are centralized in large cities. First-tier cities and emerging technology areas tend to attract top talent, while the positioning of second-tier and third-tier cities and rural townships still has a long road for development. Dong Xiao, executive director, Urban Land Institute, emphasized the need to provide guidance to rural townships and villages to help them improve local economic conditions and spur development.

Gensler Beijing leaders deliver closing remarks
Jerry Hung, Gensler Beijing managing director, and Emma Chang, design director, delivered a concluding speech.
Jerry Hung
Jerry is a leader who thinks like a designer and executes like an engineer. He now leads Gensler Beijing as managing director, utilizing his extensive understanding of the design and construction process in China to expand our portfolio and support our global clients as they venture into new markets. Contact him at .
Emma Chang
Trained as an architect in the U.S., Emma is a design director in Gensler’s Washington, D.C. office who brings global vision to the market. She translates her 20 years of experience in architecture and master planning into holistically designed workplace and public space projects throughout China and Washington, D.C. Contact her at .