Screw Pudong and its pedestrian-hostile streets and villas full of piles of cash (that’s what they keep in there, right?). Could Hongqiao be the future of Shanghai development?? According to reports this week, they’re soon to get the world’s largest exhibition center AND a really really elaborate transportation hub. Despite the fact that I don’t see any giant phallic or appliance-shaped skyscrapers coming any time soon (we like those to be conveniently lined up together for photo ops from the Bund) Shanghai developer Vincent Lo (and the bazillions of dollars being invested) says it’s got a shot.
The Bureau of Planning and Land Resources has announced that construction will begin this year on 500,000 square meters of exhibition space in the Hongqiao commercial area. That’s three time the size of Shanghai’s largest exhibition center in Pudong, and larger than the current world record holder in Hannover, Germany. It will be constructed above AND below ground (I’m picturing The Hive from Resident Evil) and will be situated just west of the Hongqiao Airport.
Apparently the exhibition industry is booming, and Shanghai’s current eight million square meters of exhibition space just isn’t enough to meet demand, which is 10 million square meters and expected to rise to 15 million by 2015!
The exhibition center will be part of a much larger complex including the Hongqiao Integrated Transportation Hub, which will link travel between the airport, metro lines, buses and trains. Shanghai developer Vincent Lo has already bought a 3.5 billion RMB site there, and thinks the hub will “transform Shanghai.”
It sounds impressive. According to Lo, 160,000 people will pass through the train station every day, 120,000 through the airport, and another 160,000 from the subways (including line 2 and the planned lines 20 and 23.) That’s not even hitting capacity, as the airport and train station were designed to handle up to 1.4 million passengers every day.
How much of an actual “city center” could form around the hub is open to speculation. They’re certainly investing enough. Hotels and cultural and recreational zones are in the works, but it will remain to be seen whether it attracts anything substantial. Except, of course, giant exhibitions.