Beijing Metro Land Corporation chairman Mr. Stephen Gao visited STL MIT Lab

On February 29th, 2016, Beijing Metro Land Corporation's (MTL) chairman Mr. Stephen Gao visited MIT's Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab to have a discussion with MIT Professors Jinghua Zhao and Christopher Zegras regarding MTL's latest project and China's railway development.

Railway transit oriented development focuses on the areas surrounding railway stations, specifically concentrating on the development of residential, commercial, and mixed-use projects within 500 meters. This combination of railway development is referred to as "subway coverage,” or subway transit-oriented development (TOD). This type of transit-oriented development has already been well developed in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and other international metropolitan areas, and has arrived to main land China in recent years. Beijing currently boasts the second largest metro subway system in the world. By 2021, it is projected that the combined length of subway lines will exceed 1000 kilometers, making it the longest in the world. As the continuous subway expansion occurs and more stations are added, how can these seemingly unnecessary spaces be used more efficiently? How can “urban blight" be turned into "wealth"?

The first stage MTL's railway transit-oriented development is "station property development,” which focuses on the development of property around subway stops, connecting the station to the rest of the community. The second stage is the development of subway terminals, which focuses on the development of property above the terminal subway station. During the first development stage, preparation for building is done above the stations, and the development project is built during the second stage. The project reinforces the railway with concrete structures while creating green spaces above, effectively decreasing noise pollution while enhancing the space visually. Ultimately, these interventions increase overall property values. The building technology requires large capital investment, from the source of the vibration and noise, the method of transmission, and the final receiver---below grade, above grade, and below the structure, the issue is resolved in three places, assuring the residents comfortable living. The future of this type of transient-oriented development looks beyond Beijing to the rest of main land China.  

Professor Jinghua Zhao was very focused on the impact that the railway transit-oriented development will have on people's quality of life, and hopes that this project will genuinely improve urban life.  Further, he recommends MTL conduct post-occupancy research after the project is complete. Professor Chris Zegras, who is currently working on a project in Mexico that is very similar to MTL's project, expressed interest in using this model as a reference. However, Professor Zegras noted that although Mexico also has dense urban development, it has a very bottom-up approach, so this model should not be directly implemented without careful consideration of the context. As a platform to discuss social responsibility in real estate development, the Samuel Tak Lee Lab is very excited to have been involved in this synergistic dialogue between different countries, and hopes to delve deeper into research and accompanying case studies to provide well-rounded research with important lessons for the future generations.