Here is my honest appraisal.
The Bund has not been turned into the Champs-Elysees of the East. Not by a long shot.
The exterior of the Peace Hotel and the former Shanghai Club, now the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai, both look fantastic. Jobs well done.
Other projects – such as 18 at the Bund and the Roosevelt – can also be called unqualified successes. And the old Palace Hotel, which is being turned into a boutique hotel for artists, shows cconsiderable promise.
I also love the roof gardens that are being installed atop many of the buildings.
The Mandarin Oriental had me worried – this wasn’t a renovation, but a newly built hotel. Would it be something like those hideous towers that were built behind the St Francis in San Francisco or the Peninsula in Hong Kong?
No! Much to my surprise, the Mandarin Oriental in Shanghai totally works. While contemporary in design, it manages to fit right in with its neighbours that were built in the 20s and 30s thanks to materials, proportions, lines, and angles that don’t jar.
It looks like it belongs there!
So full marks to the renovation and restoration efforts of the buildings that have been tackled so far.
Great Wall of Shanghai
But the waterfront itself is a complete and total disaster!
While I was walking northward up the Bund, I felt as though I was walking through a long canyon – imposing stone buildings to my left, and what I started thinking of as the Great Wall of Shanghai to my right.
The massive promenade that was built at water’s edge effectively cuts off the waterfront from view at street level. And this was a total mistake.
Where are the little wharves where water taxis used to dock? Where is the landscaping? What about the sitting out areas, the attractive railings, the trees?
The vast open spaces that have been created are both monotonous and boring. And the floral mosaics that are being installed along one stretch seem a bit tacky – as do the red Chinese lanterns that dangle along another stretch. Not very imaginative.
Oh, well … I’m sure this post won’t score me any points with the Shanghai Tourism Board. But it’s my honest opinion.
Copyright Michael Taylor Pictured: The prominade along the Bund (note the red Chinese lanterns dangling off its side) effectively cuts off the view of the river at street level Photo Credit Fastily via Wikimedia