UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG
FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE
Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium
Date:
14-Dec-2017 - 15-Dec-2017
-
Venue:
Room 419, Knowles Building, Pokfulam Road, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Title:
Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium

Date/Time: 14-Dec-2017, 10:00am-6:00pm; 15-Dec-2017, 10:00am-1:00pm

About

I.M. Pei (1917 – ) remains one of the most celebrated yet under-theorized architects of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Though Pei’s six-decade career is mostly identified with his unwavering interest in cultural synthesis and the power of pure geometrical form, his work and methods of practice offer additional opportunities for investigating their dynamic intertwinement within multiple, consequential moments in the history of mid- to late twentieth century architecture, and their relationships with broader social, cultural, and geopolitical phenomena.

Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium seeks to reexamine Pei in the context of the architect’s 100th birthday year as two linked conferences organised by M+, the new museum for visual culture being built in Hong Kong, with, respectively, the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University and the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Together, the events aim to resituate the architect from the intersecting vantage points of the two regional poles with which he’s most closely linked—Hong Kong/China and Boston/the United States—by bringing together architectural historians and practitioners, among others, to discuss new strands of inquiry concerning Pei and his work.

The Harvard University GSD event will be taking place October 12-13, 2017.

Rethinking Pei is made possible with a grant from the C Foundation, www.cfoundation.cn.

Conference Schedule


Thursday, December 14

10 – 10:15 am – Welcome and Introduction

10:20 am – 1 pm – Panel 1: Visions of China

Moderator:
Tao ZHU,
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

“High Modernists at Harvard University GSD: I.M. Pei, Walter Gropius, and TAC’s Huatung/Tunghai University.”
Chin-Wei CHANG
PhD Candidate, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

“Behind Pei’s Geometric Form and Space – A Case Study of the Osaka Expo Chinese Pavilion, 1970.”
WU Kwang-Tyng
Professor, Department of Architecture, National Cheng Kung University

“A Tower for ‘Modern China’.”
Juan DU
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

“Rethinking I. M. Pei, A Pictorial Vision of Space.”
LIU Linfan
PhD Candidate, School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

2:30 – 4:30 pm – Panel 2: Spatial and Formal Practices II

Moderator:
Shirley SURYA, Associate Curator, Design and Architecture, M+

“I.M. Pei’s ‘Museum of Chinese Art, Shanghai’ (1946): Modernism between East and West.”
Barry BERGDOLL
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Department of Art History, Columbia University and Museum of Modern Art, New York

“I.M. Pei and Urban Design, 1948-60.”
Eric MUMFORD
Rebecca and John Voyles Professor of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University

“Sculpture as Architecture and Architecture as Sculpture.”
Seng KUAN
Lecturer, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

4:45 – 6 pm – Roundtable

Moderator:

Aric CHEN
Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+

Yung Ho CHANG
Founder, Principal Architect, FCJZ

Nelson CHEN
Director, School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

HUANG Ming-Wei
Founder, Studiobase Architects

LIU Thai Ker
Director, Morrow Architects & Planners Pte Ltd.

Marjorie YANG
Chairman, Esquel Group


Friday, December 15

10 am – 12:30 pm – Panel 3: Global Flow of Capital and Ideas

Moderator:
Eunice SENG, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

“Designing Development: The Architectural Division of Webb & Knapp.”
Sara STEVENS
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia

“Pei’s planning for changing the downtown of Tehran.”
Kamran Afshar NADERI
Architect and Professor, Tehran

“Prefiguring the Architecture of Asian Global Capitalism: OCBC Centre and Post-colonial Globalization.”
Jiat-Hwee CHANG
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore

“Divine Light.”
Thomas DANIELL
Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Architecture, University of Saint Joseph

12:30 – 1 pm – Concluding Session

Moderator:
Nasrine SERAJI
Professor and Head, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Janet Adams STRONG
Architectural Historian

LIN Bing
Partner, OLI Architecture, PLLC.

Li Chung (Sandi) PEI
Principal, Pei Partnership Architects

Calvin TSAO
Principal, Tsao & McKown

 

Participants

Barry BERGDOLL
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Department of Art History, Columbia University and Museum of Modern Art, New York

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology in the Department of Art History at Columbia University. His research interests center on modern architectural history, with a particular emphasis on France and Germany since 1750. He has studied questions of the politics of cultural representation in architecture, the larger ideological content of nineteenth-century architectural theory, and the changing role of both architecture as a profession and architecture as a cultural product in nineteenth-century European society. He served as Philip Johnson Chief Curator at the Museum of Modern Art from 2007 to 2013, where he offered a series of exhibitions intended to offer more inclusive visions of subjects including Mies van der Rohe, the Bauhaus, Henri Labrouste, Le Corbusier, Latin American post-war architecture, and most recently Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chin-Wei CHANG
PhD Candidate, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

Chin-Wei Chang was trained as an architect and conferred an urban design master degree in Taiwan. His previous research addressed social production of spatial forms within non-architects consequences, everyday landscapes, and their conflicts with modernity in the contemporary built environment. His current research focuses on architectural profession and academy, with special attention on histories and dissemination of design education in China, Europe, and the US.

Jiat-Hwee CHANG
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore

Jiat-Hwee Chang, Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore, is the author of A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience (2016) and co-editor of Non West Modernist Past (2011) and Southeast Asia’s Modern Architecture: Questions in Translation, Epistemology and Power (2018). He is currently a Mellon researcher working on the Canadian Centre for Architecture/Mellon Foundation’s research project “Architecture and/for the Environment.”

Yung Ho CHANG
Founder, Principal Architect, FCJZ

Yung Ho Chang is Founder and Principal Architect of FCJZ. He has taught at architecture schools around the world and he is currently Professor of Tongji University, Peking University, and MIT. He was the Kenzo Tange Chair Professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California at Berkeley (1984).

Aric CHEN
Lead Curator, Design and Architecture, M+

Aric Chen is Lead Curator for Design and Architecture at M+. Previously, he served as Creative Director for Beijing Design Week, helping to launch that event in 2011 and 2012. Chen has curated numerous exhibitions in Asia, Europe, and the US, and has written for dozens of publications including the New York Times, Metropolis, Architectural Record, Wallpaper*, Monocle, and Abitare. He is the author of Brazil Modern (Monacelli).

Nelson CHEN
Director, School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professor Nelson Chen, FAIA FRIBA FHKIA, is Director of the School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Principal Architect of Nelson Chen Architects Ltd, established in 1987. Professor Chen was educated at Harvard University, receiving the BA degree summa cum laude and MArch degree with distinction and AIA School Medal as first-ranked graduate. His professional work has been recognized by over 35 major design awards from the AIA, HKIA, UNESCO, and Architect of the Year from Hong Kong Arts Guild, among others.

Thomas DANIELL
Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Architecture, University of Saint Joseph

Thomas Daniell is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau. He holds a BArch from Victoria University, an MEng from Kyoto University, and a PhD from RMIT University. His books include FOBA: Buildings (2005), After the Crash: Architecture in Post-Bubble Japan (2008), Houses and Gardens of Kyoto (2010), Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama + Amorphe (2011), Kansai 6 (2011), and An Anatomy of Influence (2018).

Juan DU
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Juan Du is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and Associate Dean for International and Mainland China Affairs in the Faculty of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. Her research and writings have been published in China, Europe and the United States, including China Voices, Urban Trans Formations, Domus International, Urban China, and the Journal of Architectural Education. She is also the founding director of the Hong Kong-based office IDU_architecture, with projects ranging from the extent of built forms to the social and ecological processes of the city.

HUANG Ming-Wei
Founder and Principal, Studiobase Architects

Huang Mingwei is Founder and Principal of Studiobase Architects, a Taichung-based firm founded in 2002. He holds degrees from Harvard University Graduate School of Design (M.Arch., 1994), and Tunghai University in Taiwan (1990). He has worked in the United States and in Taiwan, and his design work has been recognized with several awards for excellence in architecture, interior design, and real estate.

Seng KUAN
Lecturer, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Seng Kuan is an architectural historian with a scholarly focus on 20th century and contemporary architectural and urban design in Japan and China. He has published extensively on the architectural and urban culture of east Asia, most notably Kenzo Tange: Architecture for the World (Lars Müller, 2012), Shanghai: Architecture and Modernism for Modern China (Prestel, 2004), and Architectural Encounters with Essence and Form in Modern China (MIT Press, 2002). His curatorial work includes Metabolism, The City of the Future (Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2011) and Utopia Across Scales: Highlights from the Kenzo Tange Archive (Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2009).

LIN Bing
Partner, OLI Architecture PLLLC

Bing Lin is an architect and curator based in Shanghai. He has worked as a designer with NBBJ (1995-1997) and Pei Partnership Architects (1998-2010), where he was the Director for Asian Development. He has worked on a number of internationally recognized projects, including the Suzhou Museum, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington D.C., and the Shanghai World Financial Center. He has taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico and has been a frequent guest critic at Columbia University. He wrote and translated the award-winning Conversations with I. M. Pei [Chinese language edition] (2004), and he served as the chief reviewer for the Chinese language edition of I. M. Pei Complete Works (2011).

LIU Linfan
PhD Candidate, School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

Linfan Liu’s dissertation examines the use of Chinese landscape painting as a conceptual device in contemporary architectural practice. Liu was trained in architecture in both China and the United States. She also practiced as an architect and researcher after receiving her Master Degree in Architecture at the State University of New York. Her research interests include historical and theoretical connections between painting, architecture, and landscape architecture, and the possibility of inter-disciplinary translations within practice.

LIU Thai Ker
Director, Morrow Architects & Planners Pte Ltd.

Dr. Liu Thai Ker, architect-planner, is Director of Morrow Architects & Planners Pte Ltd. He is concurrently the Founding Chairman of Centre for Liveable Cities, a position he has held since 2008.

Dr Liu served in the Housing & Development Board from 1969 to 1989, the last 10 years as its CEO. As CEO of Urban Redevelopment Authority (1989-1992), he led the major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan. Dr. Liu has planned for over 40 cities overseas.

Dr. Liu worked at I.M. Pei & Partners in New York from 1965 to 1969.

Eric MUMFORD
Rebecca and John Voyles Professor of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University

Eric Mumford, Rebecca and John Voyles Professor of Architecture at Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University, is the author of The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960 (MIT Press, 2000); Modern Architecture in St. Louis (Washington University, 2004); Defining Urban Design: CIAM Architects and the formation of a discipline, 1937-1969 (Yale University Press, 2009), and a forthcoming textbook, Designing the modern city: urbanism since 1850 (Yale University Press, 2018). He has also published several edited books and many scholarly articles and other publications.

Kamran Afshar NADERI
Architect and Professor, Tehran

Kamran Afshar Naderi is co-founder of the influential Iranian architectural magazine, Memar (1997) and its associated prestigious Memar Award. He has published three books, including Public Institutions in the Islamic Cities (1987), Iranian Architecture (2003), and The Gardens of Paradise (Rome – 2007), and has written over 170 articles and essays in a variety of international magazines and books.

Li Chung (Sandy) PEI
Partner, Pei Partnership Architects

Li Chung (Sandi) Pei is co-founder of Pei Partnership Architects, established in 1992 and based in New York City, where he has directed the design of over five million square meters of building and several large-scale urban development projects in the United States, Mexico, China, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.

Sandi is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and is a son of I. M. Pei.

Eunice SENG
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Eunice Seng is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. She received her Ph.D. in architectural history from Columbia University in 2014. Her publications include essays on domesticity, Hong Kong, and Singapore in journals ranging from the Journal of Architecture, Singapore Architect Journal, to Time + Architecture. She is currently working on a book project titled The Resistant City: Essays on Modernity, Architecture, and Hong Kong.

Nasrine SERAJI
Head and Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Nasrine Seraji is Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. After receiving her degree from the Architectural Association in London, she established her design studio in Paris, where she continues to practice. She has taught and lectured widely at institutions around the world, including Columbia University, the Architectural Association, Princeton University, the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and Cornell University. Prior to her arrival in Hong Kong, she was Dean of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais (formerly the École des Beaux-Arts) between 2006-2016.

Sara STEVENS
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia

Sara Stevens’s research examines mid-20th century American urbanism and real estate. She holds degrees in Architecture and Environmental Design from Princeton University (Ph.D., 2012), Yale University (Master degree in Environmental Design, 2006), and Rice University (B.Arch., 2002). Her book, titled Developing Expertise: Architecture and Real Estate in Metropolitan America, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. Her writing has also been published in Buildings + Landscapes and the Journal of Architectural Education.

Janet Adams STRONG
Architectural Historian

Janet Adams Strong was engaged to write for I.M. Pei & Partners for more than 20 years as a documentalist and director of communications. She has independently authored, co-authored, and edited more than a dozen books on architecture, including I.M. Pei: Complete Works (2008). She holds a PhD from Brown University.

Shirley SURYA
Associate Curator, Design and Architecture, M+

Shirley Surya is Associate Curator for Design and Architecture at M+, where she focuses on researching design and architectural production in greater China and Southeast Asia. She was co-curator of ‘Building M+: The Museum & Architecture Collection’ and ‘Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK’, and contributed to exhibitions including ‘Incomplete Urbanism: Attempts of Critical Spatial Practice’ and ‘Yung Ho Chang & FCJZ: Material-ism’. She received her BA in Media Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and MA in History of Design at the Royal College of Art in London.

Calvin TSAO
Principal, Tsao & McKown

Calvin Tsao is a recognized and leading voice in contemporary architecture whose work draws from a lively engagement with a variety of art forms. He serves on the Board of The American Academy in Rome, and is an active board member and President Emeritus of The Architectural League of New York. He is also former Vice President for Design Excellence of the AIA New York chapter, and served several years as member of the Visiting Committee to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. In 2012 Tsao received a Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Legacy Award and in 2009 the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Award for Interior Design, along with his partner Zack McKown.

WU Kwang-Tyng
Professor, Department of Architecture, National Cheng Kung University

Professor Wu Kwang-Tyng is the Director of the Architectural Design Program in the Department of Architecture at National Cheng Kung University. His research focuses on post-1945 architecture in Taiwan. He was the founding chief editor of ARCH (1990-1991), former chief editor of Architecture Taiwan, and former editing advisor of Taiwanese Architect. He has also held positions as Director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2010-2011) and Chairman of the Board of the Chinese Institute of Urban Design (2003-2007). Professor Wu holds a degree in architecture from the University of Michigan (M.Arch, 1982). In 2016, he was elected as a Fellow of the Architectural Institute of Taiwan.

Marjorie YANG
Chairman, Esquel Group

Marjorie Yang is Chairman of Esquel Group, a leading global textile and apparel manufacturer headquartered in Hong Kong.

Marjorie co-chairs the advisory board of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, and chairs the steering committee of CoolThink@JC by Hong Kong Jockey Club. She also advises Harvard University, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, Tsinghua School of Economics & Management and Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University.

Marjorie has a Bachelor of Science degree from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Tao ZHU
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Zhu Tao is Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2015. His book, titled Liang Sicheng yu tade shidai, or Liang Sicheng and His Times, was published by Guangxi Normal University Press in 2014. He has published in journals ranging from AA Files and Journal of Architecture and several edited volumes, including A Critical History of Contemporary Architecture 1960-2010, which was published in 2014.

Paper Abstracts

Panel 1: Visions of China

Moderator: Tao ZHU, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Speakers

Chin-Wei CHANG
PhD Candidate, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

“High Modernists at Harvard University GSD: I.M. Pei, Walter Gropius, and TAC’s Huatung/Tunghai University.”

Chinese-born and American-trained I. M. Pei is regarded as perhaps the last master of high modernist architecture and remains renowned for his capacity to skillfully integrate modern principles with elements of vernacular building and traditional garden. Pei was trained at MIT and Harvard University during the 1930s-40s, and this research proposes an empirical study of his Bauhaus-inspired approach under the tutelage of his GSD mentor Walter Gropius at Harvard and The Architects Collaborative (TAC).

John Harkness, the last living co-founder of TAC, has argued that Gropius did not hone his protégés’ talent via the International Style in the United States, but rather encouraged them to pursue solutions that grew out of the culture in which they were located. This syncretic agenda echoes in TAC’s campus design for Huatung University, an American missionary project commissioned for construction in Shanghai in 1948, for which Pei served as associate architect to Gropius.

Due to turbulent war affairs, the project was cancelled, and it was not until the 1960s that the United Board for Christian Colleges ultimately realised the plan for a campus in China—Tunghai University, built in Taichung, Taiwan, and led by Pei and his GSD peer Chang Chaokang. Based largely on Taiwanese archival dossiers that have largely escaped today’s scholarly attention, my paper scrutinizes how Pei and Gropius encapsulated their GSD/TAC-era vision of modernism in a place where modernity was in flux, and through a project composed of one idea, two sites, and three architects.

WU Kwang-Tyng
Professor, Department of Architecture, National Cheng Kung University

“Behind Pei’s Geometric Form and Space – A Case Study of the Osaka Expo Chinese Pavilion, 1970.”

In 1968, the well-known Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei was commissioned by the Government of the Republic of China in Taiwan as the main reviewer for the 1970 Osaka Expo Chinese Pavilion architecture design competition. Pei ultimately selected the work of Atelier Cambridge, a group of seven Taiwanese students who had studied overseas and worked in Boston. Pei convinced the government to invite Atelier Cambridge to join the special task force team for 1970 Osaka EXPO Chinese Pavilion design, and they collaborated on the design and construction of a pavilion.

Two years later, in 1972, the Republic of China was expelled from the United Nations, making the pavilion an artifact of the Republic of China’s final opportunity to participate in an international exposition as an official nation. The exposition also marked I.M Pei’s final professional engagement with the Chinese government of Taiwan.

The completion of this work as a “national symbol” inspired Taiwan at a time in which the island was contending with mainland China politically and, by extension, architecturally. As this paper argues, Pei and his design team’s work can be considered as an unusually inclusive cultural gesture for a government historically inclined toward conservativism. The project also offers an interpretation of China’s humanist architectural tradition that can be compared with several of Pei’s other important transitional works such as the Everson Museum (1968) and the National Gallery of Art’s East Building (1978).

Juan DU
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

“A Tower for ‘Modern China’.”

A 1989 essay in the New York Times titled “China Won’t Ever Be the Same” expressed anger and disenchantment over the shocking events at Tiananmen Square on June 4th. The by-line of the author was simply “I.M. Pei is an architect”. The by-line’s modesty hinted at a man known for his diplomacy and inclination to avoid political controversy. Yet the essay spoke out again the Chinese communist government, which also happened to be Pei’s client at the time.

In June 1989 Pei was six months from finishing the Bank of China tower in Hong Kong, commissioned and owned by the Chinese state from Beijing, and representing the tallest building outside New York and Chicago. In the days following June 4th, the construction crew at the Hong Kong tower hung a giant banner from the top floor of the building that called for revenge and democracy. Hong Kong residents lined up to withdraw their money from BOC in protest. Pei also protested with his essay, knowing it may further jeopardize the project, which already had had to overcome a constrained site, small budget, extreme wind and earthquake load, a hostile local press, and high expectations of the tower to rival the neighbouring “colonial” HSBC building.

The tower’s final design revealed Pei’s effort to contribute to China’s “opening up and reforms” through his profession as an architect. The planning, design, and construction of the Bank of China tower reflected the greater cultural, economic, and political tensions between China, Hong Kong, and the United States during the initial decade of China’s opening up, the particularly tumultuous year of 1989, and the imminent handover of 1997.

LIU Linfan
PhD Candidate, School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

“Rethinking I. M. Pei, A Pictorial Vision of Space.”

This paper examines the connection between imperial-era Chinese gardens and I. M. Pei’s architectural practice through the idea of a shared “pictorial vision.” Previous analysis of Pei’s work has not been able to ignore this relationship, though these discussions often offer a variety of distinctive emphases, from the specific material applications at work to the conceptual synthesis between classic Chinese gardens and Pei’s architectural ideals. Nevertheless, an underlying theme tends to anchor these accounts, namely, cultural representation and the issue of continuity of tradition in modern practice. While acknowledging these threads of thinking, my approach focuses on the intermediate medium of painting to illuminate the connection between the Chinese garden and Pei’s work.

By examining Pei’s design solutions, particularly in his built projects in China, I claim that the architect has long sought a dialogue between these two arts of different historical and cultural backgrounds—painting and architecture—through a latent pictorial accordance concretized through construction details and conceptualized as an exploration in spatiality.

The analysis will begin with Pei’s imitation of Mi Youren’s Cloudy Mountains (1130) in the design and construction of the rockery landscape at the Suzhou Museum (2002 – 06). Using this case study and related precedents, I aim to argue that, beyond its formal analogy, the creation of this “pictorial” landscape embodies Pei’s modern interpretation of the aesthetic and ontological implications shared among traditional Chinese arts (painting, rock appreciation, and gardens), and extending through contemporary design.

Panel 2: Spatial and Formal Practices II

Moderator: Shirley Surya, Associate Curator, Design and Architecture, M+

Speakers

Barry BERGDOLL
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Department of Art History, Columbia University and Museum of Modern Art, New York

“I.M. Pei’s ‘Museum of Chinese Art, Shanghai’ (1946): Modernism between East and West.”

It is tempting to dwell on the fact that exactly sixty years lie between I.M. Pei’s remarkable 1946 GSD master’s thesis A Museum of Chinese Art for Shanghai and the opening in 2006 of the Suzhou Museum for Chinese Art. But it is as interesting to reflect on the thesis project by an American-trained Chinese architect still in his own personal transition between the China of his childhood and teenage years and the emerging realization that he might never in fact return to China, which had been in a state of warfare essentially since his departure to study architecture on the east coast of the United States.

Designated as a project for Shanghai, where Pei had spent his teenage years, it offered a remarkable integration of a tradition of Chinese gardening – his new wife Eileen Loo had studied landscape architecture at the GSD – with a critical essay in the form of modernist museum space from Le Corbusier, who Pei admired enormously, and Mies van der Rohe. Indeed, the project offered a formal critique of the untapped possibilities of section in the Corbusian Domino form with a conversation with the latest work of Mies van der Rohe, whose collage for a Museum for a Small City of three years earlier is blatantly evoked in this radical reworking. Pei was positioning himself for a place in the postwar expansion of interwar modernism. If Pei’s museum project was premonitory, it was not so much as a specific prototype for museum design as it was for an ambition to create architecture in a post-war cultural debate, and not simply in its everyday commercial practice.

Eric MUMFORD
Rebecca and John Voyles Professor of Architecture, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University

“I.M. Pei and Urban Design, 1948-60.”

Architect Ieoh Ming Pei began working for the New York developer William Zeckendorf in 1948, and went on to design a series of major urban projects for him in North American cities until founding his own firm in 1960. While these projects themselves—which include two in downtown Denver, the Place Ville-Marie in Montreal, and urban renewal housing in Washington, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis—were widely publicized at the time and are relatively well-known, the intellectual context that informed them and their importance to the history of urbanism are not as clearly understood. In this paper I argue that Pei’s urban design work for Zeckendorf was closely related to the modernist approach to urban design that began to be advocated in the early 1950s by Philadelphia city planner Edmund N. Bacon, and Josep Lluis Sert, Dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1953-69.

Several of Pei’s projects for Zeckendorf became well-known within the discourse on urban design emerging in the United States at the time, including his unbuilt proposal for townhouses in the Mill Creek Valley of St. Louis and Pei’s Society Hill towers and townhouses in a historic part of Philadelphia. This paper examines Pei’s work within the context of these debates and the disciplinary shifts ushered in by Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), which would soon become part of the postmodernist critique of modernism, obscuring the historical importance of this transitional era in modern urbanism.

Seng KUAN
Lecturer, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

“Sculpture as Architecture and Architecture as Sculpture.”

First trained at MIT and worked as an engineer before enrolling in the architecture program at Harvard, I. M. Pei adhered to ideals of geometric clarity and structural rationality throughout his long career as an architect, which reached an eloquent apotheosis in the Bank of China Building. The proposed paper on the sculptural aspects of Pei’s architecture is to unpack a comment made by Pei that four sculptors he collaborated with—Picasso, Moore, Dubuffet, and Miró—successfully created abstract forms that were robust enough to scale up, commensurable with the urban monuments he was designing. Pei was evidently influenced by Sigfried Giedion and others who called for a more synthetic relationship between art and architecture in the early postwar period, especially in the urban and civic realm. Pei maintained deep friendships with the likes of Moore, Noguchi, and Zao Wou-ki, but he had a more practical, immediate scheme to harness the form-making and space-making potential in sculptures to inform his architecture.

The paper will examine four collaborative efforts between Pei and various sculptors: University Plaza at NYU (1967, Sylvette by Picasso/Carl Nesjar), Cleo Rogers Memorial Library in Columbus, Indiana (1971, Henry Moore’s Large Arch), an unrealized commission to Jean Dubuffet for the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, and the Texas Commerce Tower in Houston (1982, Joan Miró’s Personage with Birds). Pei saw specific resonance between works of Dubuffet and rock ensembles in Suzhou’s Lion Grove, a classical garden that belonged to the Pei family during his youth. Further expanding from these case studies that define more narrowly Pei’s ideas of scalability and abstraction will be architectural works that clearly exhibit abstract sculptural qualities, such as the National Atmospheric Research Center in Boulder, Everson Art Museum in Syracuse, and the bell tower at the Miho Art Museum.

Roundtable

Moderator:
Aric CHEN,
Lead Curator, Design and Architecture,

Yung Ho CHANG
Founder, Principal Architect, FCJZ

Nelson CHEN
Director, School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Principal Architect, Nelson Chen Architects Ltd.

HUANG Ming-Wei
Founder, Studiobase Architects

LIU Thai Ker
Director, Morrow Architects & Planners Pte Ltd.

Marjorie YANG
Chairman, Esquel Group


Friday, December 15

Panel 3: Global Flow of Capital and Ideas

Moderator:
Eunice Seng,
Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong

Sara STEVENS
Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia

“Designing Development: The Architectural Division of Webb & Knapp.”

Real estate developer William Zeckendorf hired I.M. Pei to found and lead the architectural division of his company, Webb & Knapp, in 1948. Leaving his teaching position at Harvard’s GSD to take the new post, Pei began working inside the development company before he had a license and grew the division to sixty people before splitting off to form I.M. Pei and Associates in 1960. Zeckendorf had visions of remaking American cities through large-scale redevelopment projects that would bring exciting programs, from floating nightclubs to opera houses to automated parking garages, into downtowns to save them from the decay and disinvestment he believed threatened them. He had commissioned projects from Wallace Harrison and William Lescaze, and discussed the work with Le Corbusier.

Zeckendorf’s brash and swashbuckling style represented a stark change from Pei’s then projected path into academia, but it also presented a great opportunity to design and build big projects while his career was just starting. Zeckendorf’s Webb & Knapp was an incubator for Pei’s practice, and it undoubtedly shaped his career. This paper will study Pei’s architectural practice from within the confines of a real estate development company to interrogate how the process of development and financing influenced the design work of architects.

Kamran Afshar NADERI
Architect and Professor, Tehran

“Pei’s planning for changing the downtown of Tehran.”

Tehran, with its 850-km2 area and almost 12 million inhabitants, is one of the biggest and the most dynamic cities of the Middle East. During the late 1970s, I.M. Pei & Partners designed a large multi-use complex for the city’s core. The contract negotiations and design work lasted around two years, from 1976 to 1978, but due to the Islamic Revolution of 1978, the construction work never begun. Kapsad, a Turkish-Seychelles company, was the patron of the project and Sazeh consultant engineering was involved as the local partner.

The project, located on a 36-acre plot, was conceived in two phases. The plot is located in a strategic district. It is close to two main theaters, universities, Daneshjoo Park, and the Vatican, Italian, Russian and French embassies. There, Pei designed a complex including an office tower, a large shopping center, two 135 m high residential towers, a 400-room hotel and several other programs. The bibliographic material about the project is very rare, but recently discovered and and partly unpublished material sheds new light on the project. This material includes written and visual documentation from Pei’s local partner, an interview with one of the engineers involved in the project, an exclusive interview with Pei published in an Iranian journal from June 1976, and aerial photography of Tehran from the time of the original project proposal.

Jiat-Hwee CHANG
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore

“Prefiguring the Architecture of Asian Global Capitalism: OCBC Centre and Post-colonial Globalization.”

The OCBC Centre, completed in November 1976 and designed by I.M. Pei and Partners, is regarded as a significant landmark in Singapore. Built as the headquarters of Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, the largest bank in Singapore and one of the largest in Southeast Asia in the mid-1970s, the OCBC Centre was seen by one commentator to have “set the benchmark for future corporate architecture and acted as an emblem of local capital with a global vision” in the region.

Upon its completion, the OCBC Centre was the tallest building in Asia outside Japan, with Southeast Asia’s largest banking hall. It was also the first major building in post-independent Singapore to be designed by an internationally renowned overseas architect. Prior to the OCBC Centre, major buildings in post-independent Singapore were designed by local architects as a part of the post-colonial nation-building efforts. After the OCBC Centre, the floodgates opened and most major commission were awarded to internationally renowned overseas architects, such as Kenzo Tange, John Portman, Paul Rudolph, and Moshe Safdie. The OCBC Center can thus be seen as a turning point in the architectural and socio-economic history of Singapore and perhaps the region.

This paper examines the architectural and urban histories of OCBC Centre and the bank headquarters preceding it, in particular, the China Building (completed in 1932 and demolished in 1972), in relation to the history of OCBC and its place in Singapore’s economic development as the city transformed from a colonial port-city to a post-colonial global city between the 1930s and 1970s. This paper posits that the design of OCBC Centre—an extraordinarily clear “architectural one-liner” and successful symbol of OCBC’s position as the leading bank and business group in the region—makes it a precursor to Singapore’s iconic architecture from the 1990s.

Thomas DANIELL
Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Architecture, University of Saint Joseph

“Divine Light.”

One of I. M. Pei’s first undertakings after his 1990 “retirement” was a bell tower for the Japanese quasi-religious organization Shumei, a tiny commission that allowed him to indulge his long-held ambition to be a sculptor as well as an architect. Shumei was founded in 1970 as an offshoot of the Church of World Messianity, a new Japanese religion supported upon three pillars: jōrei (spiritual purification though channeling divine light), shizen nōhō (physical purification through farming without fertilizer or pesticides), and geijutsu katsudo (mental purification through art appreciation). Though not overtly religious, Shumei likewise places great emphasis on respect for nature and the healing power of art. Following the successful realization of the bell tower, Shumei’s founder—Mihoko Koyama, at that time one of the richest women in Japan—invited Pei to create a museum to hold her collection of tea ceremony utensils.

Embedded in the mountains about 120km east of the ancient Japanese capital Kyoto, the Miho Museum (1997) is a sublime marriage of Shumei’s tenets regarding art and the environment with Pei’s characteristically sensitive integration of pristine architectural geometry and natural topography. The approach route itself comprises a series of extraordinary contrasts: a 120-meter-long bridge/tunnel extends from the reception pavilion, piercing a hill and spanning a valley to arrive at the entrance hall, which has an enormous glazed roof that simultaneously recalls “profane” vernacular dwellings and floods the interior with “divine” light. This paper will examine the synergistic or contradictory relationships of Pei’s architecture with client, site, program, and ideology.

Concluding Session

LIN Bing
Partner, OLI Architecture PLLC

LI Chung (Sandi) PEI
Principal, Pei Partnership Architects

Calvin TSAO
Principal, Tsao & McKown

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