A CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE WONG
Mr. George Wong, former Chairman of Parkview Group and the client of Parkview Green Complex Project, explained his intentions, process, and results in the development and operation of PVG, as an enterpriser, an art collector, as well as a developer with architecture training background.
PVG is the first built project of Parkview Group in mainland China, which is full of Mr. Wong's creative energy and enthusiasm for developing the best of all possible abounded. The success of the project generates extensive discussions throughout the architecture profession, the real estate industry, as well as public realm.
The Parkview Group also faced risks involved with a long-term project. So, why did you choose to run such a long-term project?
GEORGE WONG (GW): We were determined to own this property when we acquired this piece of land, so we hope to make this perfection, in terms of both design and construction. This project was built as a piece of artwork, with every detail of it as our achievement.
You once said that one must make good quality buildings first before setting up a good reputation and brand. Do you think you have realized your ideas on development and operation through this project?
GW: I believe that good designs can bring good profits. Being famous is the last thing l ever wanted. To develop great buildings, in fact, is my genuine goal and vision. We need to put all our heart and soul into what we are doing, whatever it is. This is the only way that we could minimize the risks. Projects of high qualities would always have values in the market. Even when the market is down, or when it is hard to lease a property,l believe that we are more likely to rent out than others, because our properties have better qualities. To earn both reputation and profits, we must earn reputation first, under the condition that our projects are well-received. For example, in this project, the hotel part only has 100 rooms. l am not expecting to make profits out of these hotel rooms, but the hotel will gain its reputation when this whole building is famous and popular.
Honestly, there would be a quite high risk involved in commercial development if the project is not located in an established business district in Beijing, not to mention the big negative impacts on the traditional retail industry placed by online retailers in recent years. Quite a few shopping malls that used to do well got into trouble. However, the Parkview Green debuts at a seemingly difficult time and offers this city such a remarkable public space full of artworks and artistic senses. Visitors pour into this place, even for those who do not feel like shopping. Did you expect such popularity when you were planning this project?
GW: Not really. My original plan was to make office space as the major part of this project, with only 60 hotel rooms. l was later persuaded to enlarge the hotel a little bit, so part of the office space was replaced by more hotel rooms, and then we have 100 rooms in total. I want to make this boutique hotel one-of-a-kind, so l decided to run it myself. Speaking of shopping malls, l think they will fade out sooner or later. The reason why the shops in Parkview Green can be so popular right now is all because of the artistic ambiance and the exhibitions in the mail. No matter how good the building infrastructure is, its planning and operation must be compatible with its times-that's the only way to make a successful project. Developers who miss this point would not be a qualified developer.
For me, I care about all aspects of a project, For instance, each and every hotel room must be guest-friendly to my standard. A building has to have life, landscape can bring life into our project. There are many unreasonable articles in government regulations, such as the requirement of minimum green space and the sunlight hours. The regulation mandates that the minimum hours of direct sunlight need to be calculated on the day with the shortest sunlight, which is not reasonable at all. However, this requirement coincidently inspired the architect to design a triangular-shaped building with a sloped roof, which in turn brings a very humane space inside the building.
Another example is the selection of artworks for exhibition in the building. I planned to buy the Taichi series by Mr.JU Ming, but he suggested that I should buy something from foreign artists because Taichi is everywhere in China. Later one day, l accidentally ran into some pieces of art by Dalí, the avant-garde of modern art, so I chose to buy his works. I felt that my understanding of art is going further and deeper as my art collection is getting bigger and richer. During this process, my taste has also evolved. I kept changing the types of artworks I collected, which is a big challenge. l change as I have a deeper understanding of art, so my taste is getting better and better.
I think we need to look at a building from an artistic perspective when we develop a project, and I wish that each room can be decorated as a piece of art. Therefore, I introduced all kinds of decorative styles in it, classic and contemporary, from both east and west. In Parkview Green, every floor has a story. Once the theme is confirmed, the decoration will follow that direction. For example, European style is the theme of the 17th floor; Chinese contemporary art on the 18th floor, European contemporary art on the 19th floor, and Chinese painting on the 20th floor.