Chicago Export
bKL in Beijing: Animation Starting to Move

Rendering of Animation Cultural City (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Animation Cultural City (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Today we continue a new series of reports we call “Chicago Exports.”

So much of the world’s great architecture is designed right here in Chicago by Chicagoans, but it’s not built in Chicagoland so it goes unseen by the hometown crowd. That’s why we are featuring the great works produced by Chicago architects continuing the city’s proud legacy as the birthplace of the skyscraper, and a global center of architecture.

By now you probably know bKL Architecture for its Wolf Point West now standing tall on the edge of the Chicago River, the first of three skyscrapers that will form the billion-dollar Wolf Point complex.  You may not be aware that it has a much larger project under construction right now in Beijing.

Rendering of Animation Cultural City (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Rendering of Animation Cultural City (Courtesy of bKL Architecture)

Animation Cultural City (动漫文化城) is part of the nation’s recent aggressive push into the field of animation.  In 2012 Beijing started its own animation festival, and hundreds of companies are competing to produce the next Smurfs, the next My Friend Totoro, or the next Mickey Mouse.

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, “Kung Fu Panda 2’s opening on Saturday to packed cinemas in Beijing was a strong reminder that no animated Chinese feature has ever made it big outside China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, yet Hollywood is able to co-opt a Chinese symbol and laugh all the way to the bank.”

China’s cultural ministry is dumping almost $700 million into developing homegrown talent and characters in order to take the industry by storm.

But enough about cartoons.  We’re here for buildings.  bKL describes its 1.3 million square foot project thusly:

Animation Cultural City is a mixed-use campus for the creative community in Beijing, China, combining office, retail and parking with extensively landscaped spaces. Its buildings and landscape were designed to inspire both workers and visitors and to fuel creative energy.

Great consideration was given to the use of sunlight in this design. The building orientation, scale and façade detailing are used to optimize the amount of direct sunlight while allowing diffused light into office and retail spaces. Plazas, sunken gardens and other exterior areas provide shaded resting spots as well as sun-filled larger public spaces.

These public spaces and plazas provide ample outdoor areas for public and private gatherings in daytime and night, all seasons of the year. They create an enjoyable, lively environment with modern, sophisticated architectural appeal and aesthetic interest.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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