Portman breaks ground on 18,000 square meter historic project

ATLANTA, GA (January, 2009) John Portman & Associates, Inc. (PORTMAN) is pleased to announce the official ground-breaking for Jian Ye Li, an adaptive re-use, mixed-use development that preserves and re-creates the historic neighborhood’s original architecture, while creating modern interiors – no small feat since the original houses had no plumbing and featured shared kitchens. The result will be an exciting international destination featuring appealing residential, retail and restaurant spaces.

Originally designed as residences for middle to low income families who worked for the Jian Ye Li Construction Company, Jian Ye Li was designed by a French architect and built in the former French concession of Shanghai. All units enjoy a Southern orientation enhanced by the Shanghai “Shikumen” or “stone framed door lane” transitional entry sequence. 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.

In 1994, Jian Ye Li was declared a protected heritage site by the Shanghai Municipality. Protection is focused on the exterior building appearance and the surrounding environments. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 6th, 2008. Today, as the project moves forward, the key to developing this historic and character rich living environment is to maintain as much of the original Jian Ye Li Shikumen style architecture as functionally and economically possible. Protecting, restoring and preserving the integrity of the classic design is paramount.

Original 1928 drawings for Jian Ye Li show a water tower location, but, unfortunately, no images of the actual tower design remain. The new PORTMAN design includes a modern abstraction of a traditional water tower. The tower, which combines copper lattice work with original Jian Ye Li brick, creates an icon for the project, symbolic of the harmonious blending of old and new Shanghai.

PORTMAN is perhaps best known for large urban high-rise projects. The Jian Ye Li project gives the firm’s staff an opportunity to display other talents. The goal is to preserve, restore, and reconstruct all exterior building surfaces, materials, colors, textures, elements and components back to the original specifications and splendor, while creating inviting interiors that appeal to modern sensibilities. Like all PORTMAN-designed projects, Jian Ye Li will be a “people place” focused on delivering an extraordinary human experience.

Jian Ye Li is just one of the landmark projects that PORTMAN is creating throughout Asia and around the world.