Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects, says the undulating, organic forms of his buildings are inspired by nature. As such, the design for Chaoyang Park Plaza—a 10-building complex near Beijing’s central business district, anchored by two hulking skyscrapers—refers to traditional Chinese landscape paintings. The rippling, steel-reinforced concrete structures, clad in black-tinted glass, evoke the imaginary mountains of these well-known artworks, and contrast starkly with the surrounding boxy, beige towers. The 2 million-square-foot, LEED Gold–certified development, which comprises offices, commercial space, and residences, is arranged around a secluded public garden, or “valley,” where, Ma says, “people can meet within nature, in the middle of the city.”