Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

JEI Commercial Building

Gangnam, South Korea

2017 - 2023

The architectural concept of “Urban Garden” is expressed as a structure with an oasis of gardens elevated from the ground, a special space to discover in a dynamic city. Courtyards, terraces, and discreet, tranquil, and exclusive gardens provide communal spaces that engage the public. Although the building is modest in scale visitors will find intimate to dramatic spaces while surrounded by high quality food and beverage offerings. The architectural features are refined and distinctive, with details, indoor and outdoor landscape and lighting holistically integrated as one.


The architectural form follows the site’s unique geometry with a central void that opens to an entrance plaza, and green mountain beyond to the north. Responding to the site’s geometry, the platonic cubic proportion of the building is incised and sculpted in to the site. The commercial spaces are organized around the central atrium filled with soft natural light from above. The main entrance/ ground floor lobby leads to the second floor Urban Oasis garden with reflecting pool and trees, where the full atrium opens up and out towards the north. At its summit the free-form skylight is a backdrop to the showcase chandelier suspended in the atrium.


The commercial spaces that surround the atrium are flexible to be sub-divided, leased and configured as desired. Virtually all restaurant spaces feature abundant natural light and views to the outside, each with a unique character by virtue of its location at the four corners of the building. The top floor lobby opens to an exhilarating walkable skylight above the atrium surrounded by stepped garden terraces. Built-in benches and intimate pockets of space are incised into a lush landscape of small trees and perennials, a tranquil and magical setting for the visitor. A café and covered outdoor bar cater to various activities, special events, and parties.


The exterior of the building is entirely a glass skin, expressed with opaque white, translucent, and transparent facades, effectively a glass sculpture. Internal wood louvers behind the clear glass facades create a texture, while providing sun-shading and privacy. The different glass types define and articulate the architectural forms, while the modular grid/ pattern of the facades regulates the uniformity of the architecture.