Weitzman News

Posted October 29, 2021
  • Jishou Art Museum, designed by Yung Ho Chang / Atelier FCJZ

    Photo: Fangfang Tian

  • Fuyang Cultural Complex, designed by Shu Wang and Wenyu Lu / Amateur Architecture Studio

    Photo: Hengzhong Lv

  • Peace Hotel of Beijing, designed by Tingbao Yang

  • Weitzman’s Zhongjie Lin curated ‘Building in China’ along with Ming Tong and Xiangning Li (pictured left to right)

‘Building in China: A Century of Dialogues on Modern Architecture’ Opens January 28, 2022

The Weitzman School of Design, in association with Southeast University and Tongji University, will present Building in China: A Century of Dialogues on Modern Architecture, a two-part exhibition tracing the country’s shifting design practices over a century in which many of its leading practitioners and scholars were educated at Penn.

Since the 1920s, the undergraduate and graduate architecture programs at Penn have attracted Chinese students who went on to highly influential careers, beginning with Liang Sicheng (1901-1972), Yang Tingbao (1901-1982), Tong Jun (1900-1983), and Lin Huiyin (1904-1955). After returning to China, they founded the country’s first modern firms and educational institutions, devoted themselves to the rediscovery and conservation of Chinese architectural heritages, and introduced many Western design practices in China. Their works grew from the Beaux-Arts tradition but incorporated a Chinese architectural vocabulary, and they sowed the seeds of Modernism in China. The dialogue between the East and the West is alive in contemporary Chinese architecture, and can be seen in the interplay between the pursuit of modernity and the search for national identity. In the 21st century, a rising generation of independent architects, in practice and in education, is actively seeking alternative languages to express Chinese characteristics against the backdrop of the country’s rapid urbanization and massive building projects. In a range of projects and styles, they use design as a tool for cultural critique.

Building in China investigates significant moments in the continuing architectural dialogue between China and the West, between different generations of architects, and among contemporary designers in China. The first part of the exhibition, presented in the Kroiz Gallery at Penn’s Architectural Archives, focuses on historical representation, and features a series of buildings designed by the first generation of Chinese architects trained at Penn, many of which remain unpublished. They illustrate the architects’ responses to the international modern movement in the first half of the 20th century as well as the ways they intervened in the growing Chinese cities. The second part of the exhibition, on view at Penn’s Fisher Fine Arts Library, includes six projects by architect-educators Yung Ho Chang, co-founder of Atelier FCJZ, and Shu Wang, co-founder at Amateur Architecture Studio, which are emblematic of contemporary Chinese architectural practices. These artists’ studios, museums, college campus, and village revitalization demonstrate their attempts at incorporating and balancing modernity and locality on the small, medium, and large scales, and reflects the architects’ ideals for contemporary Chinese urban and rural societies.

The exhibition will be on view at Penn’s Architectural Archives and Fisher Fine Arts Library from January 28 through Friday, April 22, 2022 (Library) and May 16, 2022 (Archives). Admission is free and open to the public during gallery hours, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm (Archives) and Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 6:00pm (Library). In addition, the Library is open to members of the Penn community on Saturday from 10:00am – 6:00pm and Sunday from 12:00 noon – 6:00pm. Members of the Penn community are required to show a valid PennCard and Green PennOpen Pass; visitors are required to present their PennOpen Campus Pass for entry.

[Updated 1.11.22] Organized in conjunction with Building in China: A Century of Dialogues on Modern Architecture, the symposium entitled Engaging Chinese Architecture: A Centennial Conversation has been postponed; the new date and time are to be announced. Advance registration is required, and program details will be announced in late December. Yung Ho Chang will give a lecture on January 28, 2022; admission is free and open to the public with advance registration.

Building in China: A Century of Dialogues on Modern Architecture is curated by Dr. Zhongjie Lin, associate professor of city and regional planning, University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design; Dr. Ming Tong, professor of architecture, Southeast University School of Architecture; and Dr. Xiangning Li, professor and dean of College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University.

Realized through the China Research and Engagement Fund at Penn, the project has been supported by Penn Global, Penn Wharton China Center, Architectural Society of Shanghai, Atelier FCJZ, Amateur Architecture Studio, and ArchiDogs. Project advisors include Jiaming Cao, Yung Ho Chang, Amy Gadsden, Ping Huang, Lijia Lu, Wenyu Lu, Frederick Steiner, Shu Wang, William Whitaker, John Zhang, and Tong Zhang. Scholars including Ariel Genadt, Liyang Ding, Jiawei Jiang, Qi Zhang, and Boqian Xu contribute to the curation.