Overlooking the Yellow Sea in central Qingdao, the Agora is a 2.3 million sq. ft. development consisting of a 4-story, 300,000 sq. ft. retail podium; a 30-story, 96-unit condominium tower; and a 51-story, 936,000 sq. ft. class-A office tower, upon completion the tallest in Shandong Province.
The form of the office building recalls traditional Chinese ‘scholar rocks’ or ‘gongshi,’ which embody the dynamic transformational processes of nature. The specific shapes of the stones are said to evoke islands off the coast of Shandong Province, and are often presented on an intricately carved base. Their use to inspire the design concept established a poetic and specific connection with the natural history and culture of the local region.
The articulation of the tower also enables varied window to core depths, which accommodate a wide variety of tenant uses and allow for future adaptation. The retail portion of the development celebrates the essential role that food plays in Chinese culture, with restaurants of different scales and ambiences, as well as bakeries, spice markets, delis, cafes, and tea houses.
Public amenity was very important to the development of the project and existing and anticipated pedestrian traffic patterns provided the framework for siting the buildings and shaping public spaces around the site. A tiered garden faces a reflecting pool in an amphitheater arrangement, designed to host community events such as concerts, performances, and outdoor film screenings.
Since completion the Agora has been recognized for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Economy in Housing Development’, by the CPC Qingdao Shinan District People’s Government. The commendation was awarded for exemplary contributions to the development of housing.