Songdo: 21st-Century ‘Aerotropolis’

Night view-14

Northeast Asia is such a hub of explosive growth that international cities appear to emerge overnight. Take the case of Songdo, the world’s most sustainable, all-new LEED-certified city along the Yellow Sea near Seoul that offers the wide boulevards of Paris, a canal system inspired by Venice, convention center architecture influenced by Sydney’s Opera House, a 100-acre Central Park that evokes Manhattan’s own Central Park, and a series of vest-pocket parks that bring to mind Savannah, Georgia.

©Songdo IBD

©Songdo IBD

Designed by architect Richard Nemeth of Kohn Pedersen Fox and built on reclaimed land at a cost of $35 billion, Songdo opened in August 2009 with a commitment to the best sustainable design principles of urban planning. Home to the tallest building in Korea alongside a variety of modern, high-tech residential and retail developments, the 1,500-acre city features a broad range of shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences, as well as public and private schools and state-of-the-art health care facilities for 45,000 current residents and more than one million annual visitors. All parking at Songdo is subterranean—and the world’s largest pneumatic waste collection system eliminates the need for garbage trucks.

©Songdo IBD

©Songdo IBD

For centuries, Northeast Asia has enjoyed an enviable geographic position for international trade, travel, and business. Currently, three of the world’s largest economies (Japan, China, and Korea) are anchored in Northeast Asia, with South Korea as the region’s commercial epicenter. Located within 3 ½ hours flying time to 1/3 of the world’s population, the Northeast Asia region is a dynamic hub in the midst of explosive growth.

Songdo features nearly 1,600 hotel rooms at various accommodations, including the traditional hanok guesthouse at the brand-new Gyeong Won Jae Ambassador Hotel, which was designed in the ornate Korean Goryeo Dynasty style with ondol floors and traditional Madang gardens. The Oakwood Premier Incheon, which opened in 2014, is one of Songdo’s several five-star luxury hotels.

©Songdo IBD

©Songdo IBD

Scores of restaurants and more than 1000 retailers have opened in Songdo International Business District. Recently named one of Zagat’s “30 Top Chefs under 30,” Esther Choi is the culinary wizard behind Chelsea Market’s Mokbar, which has furthered the renaissance of Korean cuisine in New York.

In keeping with Korea’s rise as an emerging travel destination in Northeast Asia, Songdo will be the first Asian city to host the PGAPresidents Cup, the prestigious biennial team tournament, which will be held October 8-11, 2015.

©Songdo IBD

©Songdo IBD

Songdo IBD also offers 117,000 square feet of convention space, including the largest column-free span in Asia, as well as more than 66,000 square feet of hotel meeting space. Directly linked to award-winning Incheon International Airport by a 7-mile, cable-stayed bridge, Songdo is the world’s first sustainable city designed to be an international business district and an innovative center for events, meetings, and conventions. Hailed as an “aerotropolis,” Songdo IBD exemplifies the future of business and travel.

Mark Thompson

About Mark Thompson

A member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson is an editor, journalist, and photographer whose work appears in various periodicals, including Travel Weekly, Metrosource, Huffington Post, Global Traveler, Out There, and OutTraveler. The author of the novels Wolfchild (2000) and My Hawaiian Penthouse (2007), Mark completed a Ph.D. in American Studies. He has been a fellow and a resident at various artists' colonies, including the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: