American Firm Callison, With More Than 1.4 Million Square Meters Of Space Under Construction, Sees Sustained Urban Growth
The Seattle-based architectural and retail design firm Callison announced today that it plans to leverage its nearly 20 years of experience in the Chinese market to direct more in-country staff and resources to its already-intensive China efforts. As we’ve written before, many observers think China’s future will depend on its second- and third-tier cities rather than the traditional business and cultural centers of Shanghai and Beijing, and Callison is looking to be one of the biggest players in the development of these large, but still underdeveloped, cities.
According to a company press release, the firm has put China high on its global list of priorities. The firm’s former CEO and current Principal, Bill Karst, is currently based in China, and the firm has more than 1.4 million square meters of space under construction, including The MIXc luxury shopping complex in Hangzhou and 24 City in Chengdu, both of which are being developed by China Resources. As the release goes on to point out, Callison is uniquely positioned in terms of major foreign architecture and design firms in China, as it has been in the market since 1991 — giving it rare insight into the workings and particularities of the Chinese market:
In the market since 1991, Callison has enjoyed a proven track record, solid relationships and a deep cultural understanding of how to do business in China. With the global economy, there is definitely a new run of international investors and developers that are running at China because their home opportunities are not as strong as they were before. But the novice enthusiasm wears off, particularly due to the unique and unexpected challenges of doing business in China. The relationships and the partnerships are what the business is all about.
There is such a depth of capabilities in China – the successful players that are just now entering the market benefit by seeking out the experienced in-country developers, investors and design experts as partners. Those that come in and try to operate independently have a tendency to have a strong competitive disadvantage. Anytime there’s a new flood of interested parties, many find out the hard way that China is not as inexperienced as they might think at first blush.