The new 176-room Waldorf Astoria in Beijing, China was designed as a contemporary interpretation of the Forbidden City, China's most important historical treasure, which is located two blocks west of the hotel. Stylistically the influence can be seen in the hotel's symmetry, prominent eaves, and the generous use of bronze.
The design team's intention was not to directly evoke Chinese architecture but to subtly reflect it in its use of materials and its strong sense of richness. The bronze exterior expresses the luxury, dignity, and legend of the Waldorf brand, and reflects the character of the site location. The super frame, connecting the roof and anchoring building corners, recalls the symmetry and steady character of Chinese traditional architecture. The carefully detailed floor-to-ceiling bay windows provide spectacular city views in each guest room.
While the bronze façade was designed as a thoughtful response to traditional Chinese architecture it was also used to represent the luxury brand of Waldorf Astoria. Bronze was used in large areas of the walls, as well as on window mullions, small cladded sunshades and perforated screens. Other high-end, traditional materials were used to the same effect; grey granite was used as a background material on the walls, which recalls the historic charcoal bricks of Beijing's traditional residential streets. Luxury is also evident in the orientation of the façade. The Waldorf Astoria in Beijing was built to replace a previous hotel on the same site. The new hotel was orientation to increase the comfort of the building users and the environmental sensibility of the project. The custom shading system designed for each room provides the exterior character of the hotel and minimizes the solar heat gain from all directions, creating both an environmentally friendly and culturally specific building.