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Do you know Songdo? No, not a new video game, but the $35 billion, 100M SF international business district in South Korea, which takes much of its inspiration from NYC. Not surprising: Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Jamie Von Klemperer is its master plan architect. We dropped by KPF's West 57th St. office for an update: He says Songdo’s Central Park is now open, and it's feeling like a city for the first time.
Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Jamie Von Klemperer at his office
While many projects have been delayed, Songdo proceeds apace, Jamie says. Korea has felt the world’s economic pain, but developer Gale International is adamant the master plan not be compromised, and has not strayed from the design. Its $500M Northeast Asia Trade Tower overlooking the park is almost finished, and the international school is complete. Just in time: The Korean economy is picking up again.
Songdo's Canal Walk
The next step is Canal Walk, a kilometer-long groundscraper of retail, office, and residential with a seawater canal as its centerpiece. Jamie describes the design as if “you’re in the middle of a stage set,” and says its scope is comparable to developing a NYC street between Third and Eighth Avenues. They’re aiming to create a residential/street life feel similar to parts of Brooklyn or the Upper East/West Sides, which he says is extremely unusual in Korean development. KPF was also recently awarded two major high-rises for hotel and retail in Seoul, as well as a 100-story tower in Busan.