Design Prof Wins China Contract

Harvard will soon leave its mark on the waterfront of one of China’s busiest ports.

The architectural firm of Graduate School of Design Professor Alex Krieger won a competition to redesign the Shanghai Bund, a stretch of historic buildings along the Huangpu river, in time for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

The design aims to transform the Shanghai Bund into a more accessible space to “reconnect the city fabric with the waterfront,” said project director Liang Zhao.

Krieger said he was inspired by an old photograph of the waterfront that showed perpendicular pathways connecting the popular tourist destination to the water.

The Bund currently boasts a promenade on a levee with a view of the Huangpu River. But the walkway is now separated from the city by a 10-lane highway, which poses an obstacle for direct human interaction with the waterfront.

The design for the waterfront incorporates a floating barge, gardens, bridges, and a viewing tower. The new Bund will span 1.8 miles with six lanes moved underground.

Zhao described the plan as “connecting China’s past and future,” recognizing Shanghai’s rapid modernization while at the same time maintaining a respect for its cultural history.

Krieger said that contemporary Chinese urban development has been marked by an “incessant pressure to accommodate growth” along with more centralized decision-making.

Krieger called a 2010 completion date ambitious. “They will certainly try their darndest,” he said when asked whether the design would be completed in time for the Expo.

Design School Professor Susan Fainstein said that American architectural firms have a large presence in China and that it was not surprising that an American firm would be designing a Chinese waterfront.

“It’d be more unusual the other way around,” she said.

Krieger and Liao’s design firm, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz (CKS) worked with Klopfer Martin Design Group and Beijing Urbanscape Co. to beat out an international roster of designers in the competition.

Members of the Shanghai planning agency and professors from Chinese universities comprised the competition’s judging panel, according to Krieger.

—Staff writer Lingbo Li can be reached at lingboli@fas.harvard.edu.