08-01-2006 10:59

Benjamin Wood is a leading architect who has received international recognition for a series of redevelopment projects. His goal is to maintain the feel of historical architecture to allow people to experience a piece of history.

Mr. Wood received a B.S. in civil engineering from North Carolina State University and a Masters of architecture degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. Before becoming an architect at the age of 32, he had many occupations, including attorney and pilot.

Benjamin Wood, his projects, and his firm, Wood and Zapata Inc. have been known and accepted by Chinese since their work on Shanghai's Xintiandi. Before Xintiandi, Mr. Wood also designed the highly acclaimed Century City Marketplace in Los Angeles and Washington's Union Station Redevelopment project. Among his current projects is the Nijyo mixed-use commercial project in Kyoto, which includes a Sony Superstore and 13-screen multiplex cinema for Virgin. He has also won competitions for the Minato Mirai 21 Development Plan in Yokohama and the Daiba District Plan in Tokyo.

His relationship with Xintiandi was a case of love at first sight. When he flew into Shanghai, he was given 24 hours to decide whether he wanted to do it. In his opinion, Xintiandi should not be a museum, but a place for entertainment. His aim is not the same as preservationists. He designed Xintiandi for himself, and envisioned it as a place for romance. He loves good music, candlelight, delicious cuisine,and conversing with interesting persons. To him, Xintiandi should be a place for people to enjoy their lives. Today, Xintiandi has developed into a commercial and entertainment hub in Shanghai. Originally a haven for expatriates, Xintiandi is now Shanghai's number one tourist attraction for Chinese visitors.

Now, with many officials commissioning Ben to design "Xintiandis" in their cities, he will face a different challenge in the future. Join us on Up Close to hear the novel design ideas from Ben Wood.