Lujiazui’s iconic skyline is used ubiquitously to depict the city and is, in many ways, not only a symbol of Shanghai but of the rise of China as a whole. The pocket of land nestled into a bend in the Huangpu River was a rice paddy in the early ‘90s yet is now home to dozens of skyscrapers, including the World Financial Center – the third tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Taipei 101. These buildings house more than 500 of the world’s top financial and insurance companies and make the area China’s de facto financial capital.
The scale of the development is incredible, even more so when one considers that it was done in less than 20 years – and that it’s not finished yet. Construction is underway on Shanghai Tower, a third super-tall skyscraper in Lujiazui, which will eclipse the World Financial Center and become the second tallest building in the world at 632 meters. Slated for completion in 2014, the tower will become the tallest building in China and will no doubt become an icon which will define Shanghai for decades (if not centuries) to come.
As a place to live in Shanghai, Lujiazui is prized for the stunning views of the Bund over the Huangpu River from its luxury high-rise apartments. It’s also a short ride to the Bund and French Concession and shopping and expat-oriented services are plentiful. Although some regard Lujiazui as a sterile concrete jungle, Shanghai’s largest green zone, Century Park, is a short distance away.
High-rise luxury apartments are the primary form of residence in Lujiazui, with many of them lining the banks of the Huangpu River. As with their counterparts across the city, they’re equipped with a range of services and facilities, and even residences at the bottom of the scale have indoor swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, yoga rooms, children’s play areas and the like.
From the intersection of Pudian Lu and Yuanshen Lu, follow Pudian Lu southwest to the Huangpu River and Yuanshen Lu northwest to the Huangpu River to define the eastern borders of Lujiazui. The western border is the river itself.
Just as you leave Lujiazui along Century Avenue you’ll find that you’ve passed from Shanghai’s most spectacular cityscape to its best park. Unsurprisingly, the residential area near Century Park – essentially three sides of a circle before arriving in Jinqiao to the park’s east – is highly sought after. It’s popular with some foreigners as a kind of buffer zone between the full-on expat experience of Jinqiao and the more local housing as you head south from Lujiazui. Rents are high; there’s nothing like a park view to goose prices, especially in a city like Shanghai where greenery is at a premium. Living here makes the commute to Lujiazui extremely easy, and with schools and Western services in Jinqiao on the other side it’s an attractive option.
Century Park was built with the example of New York’s Central Park in mind, and it’s big enough to be a real city oasis, with skyscrapers in the distance. It’s also much more of a Western-style park than most, with plenty of green space where people are actually allowed to picnic and kick a ball or throw a Frisbee, in marked contrast to most other parks here, and certainly to the traditional stylized Chinese garden. There’s a big lake (boats can be hired), a bird park, a kids section and more; it’s a great place for a family day out and to cycle or jog around. People come from across the city to spend sunny days here, and there are performances and concerts at its auditorium. By the western entrance you’ll find the spectacular Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, another highly recommended place for the whole family.
Living around here, you’re looking at high-rise luxury apartments in general, rubbing shoulders with towering hotels and serviced apartments. There’s local housing as well, and unsurprisingly it has a less frenetic feel than Lujiazui. Transport by Metro or car is just as straightforward as for Lujiazui.
US joint venture Shanghai East International Medical Center has a comprehensive medical facility at 551 Pudong Nan Lu, which caters specifically to the expat community. Inpatient and 24-7 emergency services are available, as are a range of services including OB/GYN, family medicine, pediatrics, surgery and chiropractic care.
ParkwayHealth has a clinic in the Jinmao Tower at 88 Century Avenue, offering both family and adult medical services as well as psychiatry and psychology services.
WorldPath Clinic International is another good option, located at 777 Century Avenue. Along with the usual range of services such as family medicine and OB/GYN, WorldPath also has dentist services and they provide cosmetic surgery services as well.
People don’t move to Lujiazui for the schools, although the commutes to the international schools in Century Park, Jinqiao, Kangqiao and even Hongqiao are not debilitating in length, and depending which side of Century Park you live on may even be quite short. However, if you intend to get involved with the community at your child’s school, then it’s not only your child’s commute you need to consider but your own as well.
In September 2014, Wellington College International Shanghai opened south of Lujiazui adjacent to the Mandarin Oriental Sports complex offering an excellent option for residents of both Lujiazui and Century Park.
Century Park is more family-friendly and home to two Yew Chung International School campuses and a Fortune Kindergarten.
One of the attractions of living in Lujiazui or Century Park is that you’re close to almost everything you need, and while it would be a mistake to say that transportation options are plentiful in the area, depending on the complex you choose you could be within walking distance of many essential services.
Metro Line 2 bisects Lujiazui down Century Avenue, with both a Century Park and a Shanghai Science and Technology Museum stop, and has stops at Nanjing Dong Lu (one stop from Lujiazui Station), People’s Square (two stops), and Jing’an Temple (four stops). At People’s Square you can connect to Line 10, which has stops all along the Huaihai Lu shopping area. Century Avenue Metro station is a big hub connect- ing Lines 2, 4 and 6, meaning you can get anywhere reasonably directly from here.
For most, cycling is not really an option, as the area is too busy. Expats generally rely on the Metro, private drivers or taxis to get around. If you’re commuting by car to Puxi from Century Park, you can avoid going through Lujiazui by taking the Nanpu Bridge to the southwest.
Shops and Services
Lujiazui, while not known as a shopping district per se, is still home to a wide array of shopping options. At the centre of it all is the enormous Super Brand Mall, which, as you might expect, is home to all manner of stores and restaurants. The newly opened ifc Mall is another shopping option for those with a penchant for luxury goods. It also has an Apple store and a number of high-end restaurants.
Lujiazui is also home to a number of five-star hotels, all of which offer fine dining options as well as spa and fitness facilities. For residents of Century Park, most people head to Lujiazui for serious shopping, though of course there are plenty of local possibilities, and the hotels around the park have international dining options.
Beyond malls and hotels, almost everything else you could imagine is available in Lujiazui, except perhaps respite from the unadulterated commercialism of the area. For that you’ll need to retreat to the comfort of your home.