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American architect Ben Wood has participated from the ground up in the sweeping transformation of China’s largest cities in the past 15 years through a boom in demand for foreign architects. That opening has benefitted global industry giants such as Gensler and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, as well as smaller firms such as Wood’s Studio Shanghai.
A protégé of legendary Boston architect Benjamin Thompson, famed for his work on the city’s beloved Faneuil Hall area in the 1960s, Wood teamed up with Hong Kong billionaire developer Vincent Lo at the end of the 1990s to do much of the design on a retail, entertainment and commercial project in Shanghai, Xintiandi. Rather than demolish the dilapidated buildings and built new apartments that would sell out quickly, Wood preserved much of the original construction materials in the area and turned it into a must-see icon for city visitors that is viewed by millions every year.