Hitting new heights

08:18, July 19, 2010      

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25 years of unprecedented architecture and services

The Beijing CBD now has many internationally known landmarks. Photos provided to China Daily

Twenty-five years ago a walk along the same streets that are today home to the shining Central Business District (CBD) of Beijing would pass ashen factories that still carried giant, though fading, banners exhorting workers to study Chairman Mao Thought. Locals then shuffled along crumbling footpaths, covering their faces as passing trucks coughed black plumes of exhaust.

But around the corner at the east end of Jianguomenwai Avenue something radically new was rising. On a single patch of land, a hive of activity was buzzing around the first stories of a structure unlike anything else in the city. Residents knew it was unprecedented, but it is few could have foreseen that it was just the harbinger of a new Beijing.

'Golden intersection'

Only six years after China began its opening and reform, the central government in 1984 approved construction of the China World Trade Center to create a crossroads for the country's growing engagement with international business and commerce.

Built at what would become the "golden intersection" of Jianguomenwai Avenue and the East Third Ring Road, the China World complex became the hub of the city's new business district, causing a sensation when its first phase opened in 1990.

The office complex accounted for 30 percent of the entire city's office stock. Multinationals just beginning to find a foothold in the Chinese market naturally flocked to it. More than 100 Fortune 500 companies set up shop at China World, almost overnight forming the center of gravity for international business in Beijing.

It took until 1993 for the area to be officially zoned as the city's CBD, but its leading role in Beijing's rise to international prominence was already assured.

Other districts of the city had to play catch up in an attempt to offer similar services, facilities and infrastructure - and they still are. Despite massive and aggressive competition, the CBD now hosts 130 Fortune 500 enterprises, more than 50 percent of the city's total, and 230 international financial institutions.

And far from slowing in the midst of recent economic turmoil, the CBD's development is accelerating with the completion of the stunning China World Tower, Beijing's tallest building and an iconic landmark for the city.

As the Olympic Games came to symbolize China and Beijing's emergence as truly global players, China World Tower signals that the capital city has arrived as a center for international business on a par with Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei. The building is Beijing's answer to Taipei 101 and the 2IFC in Hong Kong - not only a beacon for the CBD, but a defining symbol in the international imagination.

Source:China Daily


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