Work starts on Xujiahui skywalk

Construction has begun on the initial phase of a circular skywalk to connect malls in the Xujiahui area.
Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co.

An artist’s rendition shows a bird’s-eye view of how the Xujiahui skywalk — linking the area’s malls — will look once it is completed in 2020.

Construction has begun on the initial phase of a circular skywalk to connect malls in the Xujiahui area. It will open by the end of 2018 as an “urban balcony” complete with greenery and art exhibits.

The first pillar for the project to be built in three phases has been erected in front of the Huilian Mall on Tianyaoqiao Road, the Xuhui District government said. The whole project is due to be complete by 2020.

It is part of a major facelift of the Xujiahui commercial zone — renowned for its shopping and electronic malls. The zone will be redeveloped with cultural and entertainment venues taking center stage.

The 400-meter first phase will connect the renovated West Asia Hotel, now renamed the T20 Building, along with the city’s popular digital markets of Metro City and Pacific Digital City.

The next phase will link the Orient Shopping Center, Grand Gateway 66 and the Pacific Department Store, the Xuhui government said.

It will have distinctive features compared to normal skywalks with more greenery and an artistic flavor to make it a public “urban balcony,” and art gallery, according to the government.

Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co.

The 400-meter first phase will connect the renovated West Asia Hotel, now renamed the T20 Building, along with the city’s popular digital markets of Metro City and Pacific Digital City.

“The main purpose is to connect the commercial, cultural venues and public plazas of Xujiahui, but also add many places for people to take rest,” said Ai Fuping, deputy director of the Shanghai Urban Transportation Design Institute which is in charge of the project.

The skywalk will be 20 meters across at its widest part. Shrubs and flowers will be planted on both sides, and LED lighting will feature different colors corresponding to the notes of traditional Chinese folk song Jasmine, so that visitors will feel like the popular rhythm is flowing around when walking on the skywalk at night, according to the institute.

Electronic screens will display temperature, stock market trends as well as emergency alerts. A Wi-Fi service will be available.

To avoid traffic disruption, most of the structures will be prefabricated and assembled on site. Construction will be suspended during rush hours.

In future, the skywalk will be extended to Xujiahui Cathedral, which has just finished a two-year renovation and reopened for religious events, as well as other Xujiahui landmarks.

Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co.

The next phase of the skywalk construction will link the Orient Shopping Center, Grand Gateway 66 and the Pacific Department Store.

The restored cathedral has become a core landmark with a batch of historic venues around that include a planetarium, library and the tomb of Xu Guangqi, a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scientist and official after whom Xujiahui is named.

The Xujiahui commercial zone was established in 1992 as one of eight commercial centers in the city. Business soared between 1999 and 2008, thanks largely to the malls and Metro Line 1, but sales at the traditional malls have been falling since 2009 due to online rivals.

As a highlight of the facelift, the former three-star West Asia Hotel, built in 1995, has been redeveloped into an upmarket complex renamed as T20. Renovation work has been completed on the building, which is scheduled to reopen in October.

Designed by renowned French architect Jacques Ferrier, who was also responsible for the France Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, the former 31-meter structure was wrapped in steel and extended to became a 70-meter-tall building.

Among other once popular commercial landmarks, the Buynow Mall’s Metro City branch is being revamped into a fashion and cultural hub.

The Pacific Digital City next door is being demolished. In its place, a small complex for recreation and entertainment will open by 2018, according to the district’s commerce authority.

Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (Group) Co.

The skywalk will be 20 meters across at its widest part. Shrubs and flowers will be planted on both sides, alongside LED lighting.

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