Serious business

A new business hub: Suzhou Industrial Park

Underground tunnels and overground skyscrapers are putting Suzhou back in the business spotlight. Words by JUSTIN HEIFETZ, illustration by REMKO HEEMSKERK

Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is a 288-square-kilometre special zone for businesses in the eastern part of Jiangsu’s famous canal city. Part of the SIP was originally established as a joint development project with Singapore, but that deal largely fell apart, with Singapore’s share reduced from 65 percent to 30 percent. Despite this setback, the project has moved forward and is now gaining renewed attention. Development plans include skyscrapers and major infrastructure to shape it into a prime central business district for Suzhou.

The SIP sits on the bank of Jinji Lake, where work begins next year to build an underground tunnel to the rest of Suzhou. The Suzhou International Finance Center – slated to be the tallest building in Jiangsu province – is now under construction in the SIP’s Hudong district, promising to soar 98 floors above ground. Another massive skyscraper, Gate to the East, a glass arch that is the current tallest building in Suzhou, was completed in 2015.

Companies and services in the SIP run the gamut of sectors, from biopharmaceuticals to outsourcing. The Chinese government reports that there are more than 5,000 foreign enterprises operating there, with about 90 of those companies part of the Fortune 500.

Jinji Lake Scenic Area Suzhou Industrial Park
Gu huafeng/Imaginechina

Jinji Lake Scenic Area

This lake is an icon of Suzhou and features a 15-kilometre walkway for visitors to enjoy parks, a Ferris wheel and numerous restaurants.

Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre Suzhou Industrial Park
Gwoeii / Shutterstock

Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre

This large complex hosts live performances in its Grand Theatre and also has a cinema complex with an IMAX theatre.

W Suzhou Suzhou Industrial Park

W Suzhou

The world’s newest W hotel opened close to Jinji Lake in September, aimed at business travellers. It offers four restaurants and bars along with 379 guest rooms.

Gate to the East Suzhou Industrial Park
Xinzheng / Moment RF / Getty Images

Gate to the East

This tall archway is a striking landmark, with luxury residences occupying one half and commercial office space the other. The design was inspired by Suzhou’s classical Chinese gardens.

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