Facelifts soon due for Nanjing Road W. landmarks

Li Qian
Renovations of three major landmark buildings on bustling Nanjing Road W. will soon be completed.
Li Qian
Facelifts soon due for Nanjing Road W. landmarks
Ti Gong

Kokaistudios’ design for CITIC Pacific Plaza’s podium introduces the concept of “a pixel city,” displaying a hi-tech image of the renovated building. 

Facelifts soon due for Nanjing Road W. landmarks
Ti Gong

An artist’s rendering of the high-end commercial complex under construction on the site of the former Shanghai JC Mandarin Hotel. 

Renovations of three major landmark buildings on bustling Nanjing Road W. will soon be completed.

The former Shanghai JC Mandarin Hotel, one of the city’s oldest luxury hotels dating back 30 years, is being converted into a high-end commercial complex. Major structural work on the building — which sits opposite Plaza 66 in Nanjing Road’s most highly coveted section — is complete.

Scaffolding outside the retail podium is coming down, and the public will soon witness its new and improved appearance.

The overall renovation is set to finish by the end of this year, and tenants will begin moving in immediately thereafter, according to Yang Jian, vice president of the Shanghai Baohua Group.

JC Mandarin opened to the public following the merger of three hotels — Jinjiang, Cangzhou and Mandarin Oriental. It was one of the most popular and prestigious five-star hotels in Shanghai until it was sold in 2013. To meet the changing landscape of Nanjing Road, Baohua decided to transform it from merely a hotel to a full-blown commercial juggernaut.

The site will consist of a 17-story office building and five-floor podium, which will open in September 2021 as a high-end retail mall featuring luxury outlets and fine dining.

“It’s not a new building but an old building being granted a new lease of life,” Yang said, adding the new site will be called JC Mandarin Plaza to commemorate its past.

“We’ve heard many locals say the hotel is full of memories and was a symbol of reform and China’s opening-up to the world,” Yang said. “We added some nostalgic elements to the design to keep such memories alive.”

Just across the street, CITIC Pacific Plaza’s podium is undergoing the biggest renovation in its 20-year history, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

Officials said the renovation will set the plaza back by as much as 600 million yuan (US$91.38 million), but is necessary to meet the changing demands of younger people who expect more personalized and interactive experiences.

Nearly 80 percent of the brands in the refurbished plaza will be new to Shanghai, which officials hope will set it apart from nearby retail malls.

The renowned architecture firm Kokaistudios introduced the concept of “a pixel city” into the design. Wellarranged glass walls on the façade will appear like countless computer pixels, displaying a hi-tech image of the renovated building.

The partially borderless plaza will feature 14 large terraces and balconies, as well as three crystal palace-like, transparent glass spaces, including a crown-style space on top of the building with 270 degrees of views. Discussions are underway with artists to combine advanced technologies and innovative art in the crown.

In response to the pandemic, the plaza will contain an advanced air-purifying system, akin to those used in Wuhan’s makeshift hospitals.

Jing’ansi Plaza across from Jing’an Temple will partially reopen by the end of the year. The sunken plaza opened in 1999 as a popular shopping destination for young people. Due to the construction of Metro Line 14, it was temporarily closed, which served as the perfect opportunity for an upgrade.

According to officials at the Shanghai Jindi Urban Construction Development Company, the plaza’s depth will be reduced from 7 to 2.5 meters to make room for a new underground pedestrian pathway designed to reduce traffic on Huashan Road. In a nod to nearby Jing’an Park, the plaza will feature more green space, including rows of Japanese maple trees that change color with the seasons.

In addition to these three landmarks, the Four Seasons Hotel and Shanghai Airport City Terminal are also undergoing renovations.

Over the years, Nanjing Road W. has upgraded to become a world-class community and retail hub. In April, it became the city’s first commercial area to experience an increase in sales, and during the 8-day National Day holiday year-on-year sales increased 26.1 percent.

According to the district’s commerce commission, Jing’an has introduced more than 300 brands since 2018 that made their debuts in either Shanghai or China — more than 70 percent of them on Nanjing Road W.

What’s more, the pandemic hasn’t affected that break-neck pace. In less than 3 kilometers of this major city artery, there are 70 commercial buildings that generate more than 100 million yuan in tax revenue annually.

As the gateway to new brands in Shanghai, more than 2,000 have set up shops on this fabled road, 60 percent of which are from overseas.

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