Grand Opening for Cultural Preservation Project – Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li

John Portman & Associates (JPA) is pleased to announce the debut of the Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li in Shanghai, China. JPA representatives joined the Saturday, October 28 grand opening celebration of the complex that includes hotel, residential, retail, restaurants, spa and office functions. Two partially open to above basement levels provided additional luxurious amenities, back of house services, and ample parking.

Originally designed in the 1920s as worker residences by French architect Foncierre et Immobiliere, and built in the former French concession of Shanghai, all units enjoy a Southern orientation enhanced by the “Shikumen” or “Stone Gate” entry sequence of Shanghai’s traditional lane houses. It is this uniquely functional aspect of the Shikumen house that creates the comfortable human scale and the intriguing spatial relationships. The distinctive Jian Ye Li “Horse Head” wall, designed to emulate the architectural period style of Anhui province, adds greatly to the cultural and historical significance of the project. Although once commonplace in this area of the city, the 43,000-square-meter Jian Ye Li estate is one of the few remaining neighborhoods of its kind.

Because Jian Ye Li was declared a protected heritage site by the Shanghai Municipality, JPA’s design worked to preserve, restore, and reconstruct all exterior building surfaces back to the original specifications and splendor, while creating inviting interiors that appeal to modern sensibilities. BLINK (formerly JAYA) is responsible for the Interior Design for the complex. Like all Portman-designed projects, Jian Ye Li is designed to be a “people place” focused on delivering an extraordinary human experience.

The Jian Ye Li estate features a notable landmark – the Observation Tower, which marks the location that once provided a water source for the neighborhood. The new Portman design is a modern abstraction of a traditional water tower that combines a three dimensional metal alloy latticework with original Jian Ye Li brick. The unique structure creates a lighted icon for the project, symbolic of the harmonious blending of old and new Shanghai.

Lell E. Barnes III, AIA, Principal and Design Director for JPA remarked, “It is fulfilling to see Jian Ye Li return to life as the Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li. Protecting, restoring and preserving the integrity of the Shikumen style architecture was a true labor of love.”

While JPA is perhaps best known for the design of large urban mixed-use projects, Jian Ye Li is not the firm’s only adaptive reuse project. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Shanghai’s Bund and Coda in Atlanta are two projects that also incorporate the preservation of historic buildings.

Credits: images courtesy of John Portman & Associates and Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li 2017