Benjamin T. Wood
Benjamin Wood, a native of Roswell Georgia, graduated in 1969 from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He attended Law School at the University of Colorado Boulder before leaving to accept an officer’s commission in the US Air Force. He served 6 years as an aerial reconnaissance pilot in a supersonic RF-4 Phantom Jet. After leaving active duty Captain Wood spent four years as a self-employed general contractor and real estate developer in Durango Colorado. In the neighboring gold mining town of Silverton Ben opened a restaurant, bar, and small hotel. In the winters Ben led ski mountaineering tours into the San Juan Mountains National Wilderness Area.
Ben’s career as an architect began almost 15 years after his undergraduate studies. He received a Master’s degree in Architecture from MIT in 1984. His first job was with Benjamin Thompson in Cambridge Massachusetts. His first project for his mentor was a vacation house on Marthas Vineyard for the Editor-in-Chief of Time Magazine. He went on to become a Partner and was the firm’s Design Director when Ben Thompson was awarded the Gold Medal by the AIA in 1988. Ben Wood was the Partner-in-Charge for the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market, City of London (3 million sq. ft.) and the Chief Architect for the Minato Murai complex, a 3.5 million sq. ft. mixed-use project in Yokohama Japan (in association with Nikken Seikkei). In the 90’s, first as a principal of his own firm in partnership with Jane Thompson and Wood, and later with Wood and Zapata, Ben authored master plans for the Revitalization of New York’s Times Square (1993), Lincoln Road and the Art Deco District in Miami Beach (1992), Playhouse Square in Cleveland Ohio (ULI Award of Excellence), and developed growth management strategies for the Rocky Mountain resort towns of Snowmass, Aspen, and Telluride Colorado and for Park City Utah.
Ben’s first commission in China was Xintiandi, a cultural entertainment district in Shanghai. The project received a 2003 Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute.
His most significant contribution on a major project outside of China was as the Chief Architect of New Soldier Field in Chicago, home of the Chicago Bears. Completed in September of 2003 at a cost of 620 million US$, this 64,000 seat stadium was built in a record 19 months. Co-designed with his former partner Carlos Zapata, New Soldier Field was named by the New York Times as one of the ten best buildings of 2003. Other buildings done in collaboration with Carlos Zapata include the Bethesda Academy for the Performing Arts, the Publix Store in Miami, Beach, the Chicago Bears Football Club Practice Facility, and Terminal “J” at the Miami International Airport.
Following the opening of Shanghai’s Xintiandi in 2002 and the completion of the New Soldier Field Ben moved his architectural practice to Shanghai. In the fall of 2005 Delphine Yip, a long time associate, became Ben’s partner in his new firm Studio Shanghai. Completed projects include Wuhan Tiandi, Chongqing Tiandi, Xihu Tiandi, Qianmen Avenue in Beijing, and Lingnan Tiandi in Foshan. Last year the firm’s 2011 design for the resort Naked Stables Private Reserve received several international awards for design and architecture. In 2009 Ben and Delphine’s Studio Shanghai co-led a team of Chicago architects in preparing the city’s 2016 Olympic Bid. Their design for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Stadium was cited for excellence by the USOC when Chicago was selected as the Bid City to represent America.
Studio Shanghai is also the master planner for the 4 billion US dollar Shanghai Dream Center for a consortium of Chinese media companies working in collaboration with Jeffrey Katzenberg and his film studio Dreamworks SKG. Both these projects require a great deal of cross-cultural translations of the built forms of entertainment destinations. Studio Shanghai’s design for the Commercial Hub at the Hongqiao Transit Hub, completed in 2015, will be the final component of the world’s largest building complex and busiest transportation center.
Today with a team of multi-lingual designers from all over the world Ben and his three partners: Tao, Anna and William are busy transforming the urban landscape of modern China creating major cultural and commercial mixed-use destinations.
30 years after Ben Wood began a career as an architect over 200 million people a year visit an entertainment destination he has designed. With the completion of Dream Center, Shanghai Disney World, and the Hongqiao Commercial Hub this number will exceed 300 million.