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Architecture Watch: Enter Thom's Dragon in Shanghai

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Federal building starchitect Thom Mayne and his firm, Morphosis, are redesigning the Shanghai headquarters of the Giant Group New Pharmaceutical company. The new building, Mayne's first in China, has been appropriately dubbed "The Dragon" due to its sinuous shape. Naturally then, executive suites are situated inside of the Dragon's "head" while the "body" contains an open plan of workstations. In true Mayne fashion, the building plays host to a number of green features, including green roofs, controlled water runoff, and a thin form that provides plenty of daylight to those within. Mayne's new project is one of several China-based buildings designed by by those who have recently built in San Francisco. Cases in point:

Daniel Libeskind's Creative Media Centre in Hong Kong, and Herzog & de Meuron's "Bird's Nest" Olympic stadium are two such buildings. An article in Sunday's New York Times features these projects in a discussion about the ethics involved in designing and building for totalitarian regimes. (And here we thought our Board of Supes was bad...) Essentially, it comes down to the fact that architects want to build, and will often justify it to themselves—and others—in any way then can. Mayne admits that the process is often complicated and political: "working under adversarial conditions could be seen as a plus because you’re offering alternatives. Still there are situations that make you ask the questions: 'Do I want to be a part of this?'"
· I’m the Designer. My Client’s the Autocrat. [New York Times]
· Morphosis’s “Dragon” Takes Flight in Shanghai [Architectural Record]
· Architecture Watch: Beijing's Olympic Bird's Nest Opens [Curbed SF]
· Architecture Watch: Libeskind Doing His Thing in Hong [Curbed SF]