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A 30,000 m
2 site in the former Imperial Hunting Grounds, 32 km from downtown

Index to Projects in China

Beijing, China

Gross Floor Area
36,900 m

First Service Bureau, Beijing

Time Frame
Planning: 1/79–
Construction: 4/80–
Completion: 10/82


Fragrant Hill Hotel

Beijing, China
Completed 1982


Lead Designers:



I. M. Pei
C.C. Pei


Deluxe hotel in the former Imperial Hunting Grounds outside Beijing

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This hotel stands in a public park within the former Imperial Hunting Grounds outside Beijing, not far from the Summer Palace and other key historic sites. Balancing symmetry and asymmetry, the 325 guest rooms zigzag out from a central skylit space to preserve the site's ancient trees. Each guest room opens onto a courtyard through a shaped "window picture" that frames the landscape and brings the outdoors inside. Building and gardens merge inseparably in an intimate reciprocal relationship.

Underlying the design is a strategy to provide a "Third Way" wherein advanced Western technology is grafted onto the essence of Chinese vernacular architecture without literal imitation. The skylight was the only major imported component; everything else was constructed by local craftsmen using age-old techniques and materials. Fragrant Hill thus draws from the living roots of tradition to sow the seed of a new, distinctly Chinese form of modern architecture that can be adapted, not merely adopted, for diverse building types. 

Although a high-rise hotel in central Beijing was originally requested, the architect declined in order to preserve the Forbidden City from skyscraper intrusion. Shortly after Fragrant Hill was commissioned, Beijing's unique legacy was acknowledged as strict height regulations were established for new buildings within critical distances and sight lines of the ancient precinct.


Major Components    

325 guest rooms, 750m2 atrium, ballroom, conference rooms, restaurants, services, retail, athletic club and pools, 2,800 m2 outdoor terrace / plaza, 11,000 m2 landscaped Chinese gardens with reconstructed ancient water maze




American Institute of Architects:
National Honor Award


I. M. Pei & Partners services

Site Planning; Architectural Design; Graphics


Mechanical / Electrical

J. Roger Preston, Hong Kong  



Dale Keller & Associates, Hong Kong



Photo credits

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