DETROIT –– First Automotive Works, China’s leading vehicle manufacturer of quality passenger cars, commercial trucks, and buses, has approved SmithGroupJJR’s final design plans for a new 422,400-square meter (4.5-million square foot) research and development center in the Changchun Automotive Industry Development Zone in Changchun, Jilin, China.
FAW’s vision was to create a world-class facility reflective of the company’s position as China’s preeminent automotive enterprise. In response, SmithGroupJJR designed a contiguous complex consisting of a seven-story administration building; comprehensive research and development center, including design workshops, testing and evaluation laboratories, styling studio, and design dome; five-story project team office building; and two 2,500-vehicle parking structures. A central distribution center and 1,100-meter-long tunnel system will facilitate delivery of products and services throughout the complex.
Unique architectural elements include a 16,100-square meter atrium, 3.8-hectare green roof, and 2.8-hectare reservoir. A separate three-story, 6,450-square meter academic and training center sited east of the main complex will also house a 400-seat auditorium, breakout and conference rooms.
Located on a 53.6-hectare site, the equivalent of 95 football fields, consolidating functions of the expansive facility under one roof will facilitate efficient circulation and foster collaboration among FAW’s projected employee population, anticipated to number 7,000. The configuration will also address FAW’s concern for employee safety and well-being during the region’s harsh winters.
Chinese Traditions, History Influenced Design Approach
The facility’s programmatic organization and orientation on the site were influenced in part by traditional Chinese planning principles. This ancient approach aims to balance the flow of energies within a space to assure health and good fortune for its users. From a facility standpoint, designers took care to address the shape of the building’s components, vehicular and pedestrian circulation paths, placement and number of entrances, views and sight lines within and across the complex, and the selection of materials. The principles also extended to the configuration of the surrounding natural environment, encompassing site grading, reservoir location, and placement of trees and plantings.
“The concept for this facility is reflective of the design style of today yet maintains the roots of traditional Chinese architecture. Our design creates a noble presence on the site, but also humbles the building within its surrounding environment,” said Paul Urbanek, SmithGroupJJR vice president and project designer.