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GROUNDWORK has worked on and been invited to explore several projects in China.  It is a fascinating place to work in many ways including the exceedingly rapid development and China's growing awareness of the ecological impact of this growth.  China’s needs, and the problems that meeting these needs raises, fit closely with the issues Groundwork addresses including environmentally healthy ways to accomplish development and how to provide high quality living environments for people at all economic levels.

Groundwork first went to China in 1993 when Sanford Hirshen and Huck Rorick were invited to work with a group of architects and planners on the design for a new community in Haikou, the capital city of Hainan.

Our more recent work began when Groundwork’s Executive Director met with Tianjin's Vice Mayor of Finance, Cui Jindu, in March 2004.  Tianjin, a place most Americans have never heard of, is about 4 times the size of Rome and the 3rd largest City in China with a population of approximately 11 million.  Neglected in early development, it is now one of the fastest growing places in China.

Vice Mayor Cui was interested in Groundwork’s approach and we were invited by Zhifeng Chen, Vice Mayor for City Development, to visit again in October.  The team for this trip included Huck Rorick; Cole Roberts, Mechanical Engineer with ARUP, one of the leading engineering firms in the world for green building; Song Yazheng, Development Director, who has been amazing in making the necessary political and business contacts to do this work; and Josh Cohn of CA Architects.  We met with government planning agencies and independent design enterprises.  Thanks to the Vice Mayor’s influence a rather extraordinary meeting was arranged in which almost all the major developers in Tianjin were in attendance.  Getting all the major developers in one room at one time is remarkable.  This led to discussions of projects ranging from a city block to a new community for 100,000 people on a 10 square kilometer site.  An immediate result was a contract with TEDA, a large Tianjin developer, to do the conceptual design for a city block in central Tianjin with 2 million square feet of housing plus offices and related retail.  This conceptual design was completed in January 2005 and subsequent phases were continued by CA Architects.

The contacts developed during these trips have led to close relationships with a number of private firms and government agencies.  We did a series of seminars with the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, the primary government planning agency for Tianjin.  We worked with a number of Chinese Universities and developed collaborative courses in ecological architecture and planning that connected U.S. Universities, students and professionals with their Chinese counterparts.  We worked with the Shuangkou Township government and local villagers on several projects including plans for a demonstration eco-village for 30,000 people and a wetlands restoration and wastewater treatment system for 5 small rural villages.

TEDA development site, Hai He river in background

Huck Rorick and Vice Mayor of Finance, Cui Jindu,  meeting in Tianjin, China


Huck Rorick (Groundwork Institute), Song Yazheng, Joshua Cohn (CA Architects), Cole Roberts (ARUP), Chinese construction personnel on construction site in China. click image for larger picture.

Banquet for Groundwork specialists with Vice Mayor for City Development, Zhifeng Chen (on right).


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