The reason we journeyed to Jin Hai Lake, for a second time, was to meet with a designer from a Newport Beach firm (California is coming to us!), BLA, to walk the site for the future Town Center.
After eating breakfast in the hotel bar (and doing a little computer work), we traveled by van to the site…unfortunately the van could not go all the way. The site is situated between two hills, I am not sure if you could call them mountains, and we had to hike up an existing trail to the summit. Visibility was low, the ground was snow covered and the trees were covered in ice crystals that stood on end, making them appear as if they were covered in white fur. The hillside is terraced, with low stone walls holding back the earth. The landscape is dotted with small mounds of earth, each representing a burial spot for the local fishing and farming village that surrounds the outskirts of the lake. The Town Center is situated near the top of the hills, and on a clear day would look out upon the lake below. Today, however, you could hardly see the peaks of the two hills on either side of the site. Once my fingers and toes were sufficiently frozen, we made our way back down the trail and headed back to Beijing for the design meeting.
The design meeting was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the top floor (this is not the typical site for design meetings, but was where the Chairman was during the day, so everybody had to travel to him!). Before the meeting I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow Syracuse Graduate, Nate, who is the Chairman’s assistant and translator. In the small conference room fifty people were packed around a 25 person table. The Chairman sat at the head, wearing a white baseball cap and holding a red laser pointer in his hand. The presentations lasted 3 hours and the projects varied from golf courses to villa designs. The meeting ran long, and we did not get a chance to present our work (just my luck!!). As soon as the meeting was over, the Chairman did a disappearing act… hardly saying hello or goodbye to anyone. The meeting was long, and an espresso was necessary!
The meeting ended around 6pm, so we went straight to dinner to meet Neil Strum and a designer friend of Jieting’s at Agua, a Spanish restaurant in the “village” (that’s what we call it), also know as Sanlitun. We ordered a variety of tapas, and I of course had a glass of red wine with my dinner.