Project Essentials

  • LocationQingdao, China
  • ClientChina Vanke Co. Ltd.
  • ArchitectBohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects
  • Size28,000 ft² (2,600 m²)
  • BudgetC$8 million

Despite an ancient Chinese tradition of timber construction, lumber has fallen out of favour due to a misguided notion that it is unsafe or expensive. As the country looks at ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, however, wood has been making a comeback – one of the best examples is the Tsingtao Pearl Visitor Centre, which features an undulating free-form solid wood roof.


Nestled in a mountain meadow surrounded by rocky outcroppings and narrow bands of farmed terraces in coastal China, the visitor centre highlights the beauty of the site, serving as a welcome portal to this growing community development while using ordinary Canadian wood in a notable way.

To deliver the building (despite a Chinese labour and skills shortage), Fast + Epp worked collaboratively with the design-builder, StructureCraft, to develop a method of parcel construction, allowing complex components and connections to be designed and fabricated in Canada, then be assembled by local crews.


  • Engineering News-Record

    2014 Global Award of Merit

  • The Institution of Structural Engineers, UK

    2013 Commendation

  • Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia

    2012 Award of Merit

The design team developed 39 novel solid-laminated wood roof panels to be fabricated on site using ordinary lumber. Concurrently, 93 glue-laminated wood columns of varying length were individually milled and fitted with custom universal connectors, and shipped to China. Extensive prefabrication and 3D modelling ensured success – the building was wholly designed and constructed in just eight months.