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Nature, environment, music and art, a design inspiration

Hangzhou Urban Rooftop, which celebrates the city as an anchor at the top of a mixed-use commercial project.

Hangzhou Urban Rooftop, which celebrates the city as an anchor at the top of a mixed-use commercial project.

WHO is he?

With more than 25 years of diverse mixed-use design and worldwide business relationships experience, Todd Pilgreen leads RDC (Retail Design Collaborative) Shanghai office. Previously, he founded tpod studio, an international design division partnered with CCI Group, a 20-year-old local design institute. Earlier as China director/partner for The Jerde Partnership, Pilgreen contributed 15 years of design leadership focused on large scale mixed-use, retail oriented projects in China and around the world.

Tell us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of.

Here at RDC, we treat every new design challenge as an opportunity to express and explore innovative ideas based on the nuances influencing each particular site/region/context and cultural specifics, including lessons learned from the past. We have a project opening this October in Hangzhou called, Hangzhou Urban Rooftop, which celebrates the city as an anchor at the top of a mixed-use commercial project. The design artfully organizes the 29,000 square meters of a five-star boutique hotel, cinema, and art gallery and food and beverage program around a “central green,” surrounded by a cluster of outdoor pavilions.

Are you currently involved with any project?

I am involved with all the ongoing projects. We have many in diverse Chinese cities such as Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanchang, Wenzhou, Hainan and Harbin with several other potentials in the pipeline. We are also working on a large entertainment-based mixed-use project in Las Vegas, USA.

Describe your design style.

My architectural journey is an artistically driven evolution of self-exploration; a process that remains intuitively connected to the spirit of the place, the forces acting upon it and its impacts on its people within our ever-changing built environment.

Where are you most creative?

My creativity is heavily influenced by what truly inspires me. My immediate surroundings, the environment, connection to nature, natural light, art, music and even quiet contemplation away from the day to day rigors of living and working. I find that where I am at peace is my home, my studio and my garden.

What does your home mean to you?

We are an international couple with diverse architectural backgrounds and our home is a true representation of this dynamic. It reflects who we are as creative individuals. It is our safe place, a place to share with friends, family and our pets, an oasis in the middle of a busy metropolis.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

Walking along the Bund at night is an experience that never gets old. The restaurants in the historic buildings with views along the Huangpu River and into the more progressive Pudong CBD are dynamic and iconic, showcasing old and new. Biking through the tree-lined streets of the former French concession is another experience uniquely Shanghai.

What will be the next big design trend?

These giant, dead, dumbbell malls are now being retrofitted to accommodate a variety of progressive uses which respond to the needs of the current and future generations. We are in the beginning stages of a movement called Urban Repair. This is new for China, but the rest of the world has already gone through it.

We will see malls transform into education facilities, residential communities, roofs ripped off to create outdoor shopping and dining streets, interactive technology driven spaces that accommodate live events or community gatherings, art and music related venues, creative shared office spaces etc.

This movement reinforces the importance of preserving existing urban context, city streets with well-planned redevelopments focusing on human scale compositions.

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