08-01-2006 13:53

Handel Lee's lifestyle projects are the talk of the town. The man behind "Three on the Bund" in Shanghai and the "Courtyard" and "RBL & Icehouse" in Beijing is a lawyer, a restaurateur, and Armani's first franchisee in China. But he is more than just your typical business investor targeting Chinese high-end shoppers. His drive and dream is to bring the best of the world to China.

Born in the United States, Handel's first 20 years resemble those of typical elite American born Chinese – excellent academic records from primary school to college, graduation from a prestigious university and entry into a renowned company. But his life was changed by a vacation in 1981 to Beijing – his mother's home city. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Handel was impressed by what he saw – an ancient yet dynamic city. One year later, he returned and stayed one year at Peking University as an exchange student. These two visits formed his decision to come back to China later, not as a visitor but a resident. Now Handel has lived and worked in Beijing for 15 years. This old Beijinger says he loves Beijing and Beijing is his favorite city.

Although Handel is better known as the owner of many fancy restaurants and clubs, he is also an esteemed lawyer – working for an American law firm and representing Chinese clients against foreign companies. When asked about his identity, Handel says, his profession is a lawyer, while his dream is to bring the best to China with his projects. After "Three on the Bund" achieved success in Shanghai, Handel is now working with his partners to set up a similar and larger project near the Tian'an Men area. He hopes that his projects will bring club culture back to Beijing's center and help to form an atmosphere of contemporary art appreciation and preservation.

In this episode of "Up-Close", Handel Lee guides you through his life-style projects and tells you his ideas behind them. Why is art so important to him? Where does he get the appreciation of his Chinese roots? How is he able to shift from one role to another? Please find out the answers in this episode of "Up-Close" and learn more about the man behind China's cutting edge life-style projects.

-- Written by Chai Haoran