Divergent Convergence

August, 2009
Villages in Development will be on display in Beijing at the “Divergent Convergence: Designing China” Exhibit!

“Divergent Convergence: Designing China”
An Exhibition presented by the USC American Academy in China

Beijing Urban Planning Centre
60 South Lishi Road, Xicheng District 10045 China

August 23 — September 23, 2009

press release

How does the next generation of Western architects see China?

What is the Western perception of Chinese art, architecture and urbanism?

From the Curator’s Statement:

“Divergent Convergence will, for the first time, collect in a single exhibition the work of students and researchers from across American architecture schools, produced over the past decade. Projects will range in scale from individual works of architecture to proposals on an urban scale. More specifically, the selected projects will illustrate the responses of students and researchers to a series of questions critically relevant to the Chinese city today: How can architecture adapt to a hyper-compressed design and construction schedule? Should ancient neighborhoods be demolished to make way for new construction? Can cities accommodate rapid demographic change without opening up irreparable social rifts? How dense should cities become? How can sustainability be achieved in the context of increased industrial production? Ultimately, this multiplicity of investigative angles will constitute an in-depth study of Chinese urbanism and architecture in the context both of global economy and local culture . . .”

Press Release:

“Divergent Convergence” is an unprecedented exhibition of how America’s next generation of design leaders see China. The exhibition displays the work of students and researchers from 15 premier architecture programs including the University of Southern California, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, and Princeton University.

“Divergent Convergence” will be shown at the Beijing Urban Planning Centre, August 23 – September 20, 2009. The Centre is located at 60 South Lishi Road, Xicheng District 10045, near Tiananmen Square.

Qingyun Ma, dean of the USC School of Architecture and founder of the American Academy in China created “Divergent Convergence.” Joesph Grima is the curator for the exhibition. Renowned architects, academics and theorists including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Thom Mayne are involved as academic advisors. “Divergent Convergence” is the capstone of AAC’s summer program in China — dedicated to building bridges between China and the United States.

Selected projects illustrate the responses of students and researchers to a series of questions critically relevant to the Chinese city today, such as: How can architecture adapt to a hyper-compressed design and construction schedule? Should ancient neighborhoods be demolished to make way for new construction? Can cities accommodate rapid demographic change without opening up irreparable social rifts?

The 100 student responses to these questions will be on display in the form of drawings and text printed on translucent film shown atop lighted tables, offering the public a unique opportunity to view conceptual work from top architectural programs in a landmark space.

According to Dean Ma, “This exhibition is long overdue. Urban problems are never simply local, and solutions for current urban China have to be investigated by multiple minds.  Aside from the China content, ‘Divergent Convergence’ creates an event that is cross-cultural, cross-institutional, and across minds–elements critical to urban culture, regardless of locality.  Education is a business for the future; therefore, the effectiveness of putting Western universities’ work in front of Chinese eyes will only be amplified as time passes, and as our exhibition repeats in the future.”

“Divergent Convergence” is created by Dean Qingyun Ma, AIA, Dean of the USC School of Architecture. Born in Xi’an, Dean Ma earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in Architecture from Tsinghua University. In 1996, Dean Ma founded the renowned design firm MADA s.p.a.m. in Beijing, which has given us Qingpu Community Island in Shanghai and the Centennial TV and Radio Center in Xi’an, among other industrial and commercial projects.

The exhibition curator is Joseph Grima, Director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City. Mr. Grima is a New York-based architect and researcher who recently published the book, “Instant Asia: Fast Forward through the Architecture of a Changing Continent” (Skira, 2008), a guide to emerging Asian architects in collaboration with photographer Gaia Cambiaggi.

Exhibition Founder:

Qingyun Ma
Founder, USC American Academy in China
and
Dean, USC School of Architecture

Exhibition Curators:

Joseph Grima, Storefront for Art and Architecture
Jiang Jun, Urban China
Charlie Koolhaas, Artist and Writer
Qin Lei, Domus China Magazine

Exhibition Academic Committee:

Hitoshi Abe
Chair, UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design
Ai Wei Wei
Artist and Curator, FAKE Design
James Corner
Chair, University of Pennsylvania School of Design.
Margaret Crawford
Harvard University GSD
Teddy Cruz
University of California, San Diego
Winka Dubbeldam
Archi-Tectonics
Harrison Fraker
College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley
Mario Grandelsonas
Princeton University School of Architecture
Zaha Hadid
Zaha Hadid Architects
Steven Holl
Steven Holl Architects
Jeffrey Johnson
Columbia University, GSAPP
Rem Koolhaas
OMA
Sylvia Lavin
UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design
Xiangning Li
Tongji University College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Thomas Campanella
University of North Carolina, City & Regional Planning
Yung Ho Chang
Department Head, MIT Architecture
Ke Cheng Liu
Dean, School of Architecture, XAUAT
Thom Mayne
Morphosis
Patrik Schumacher
Zaha Hadid Architects
Calvin Tsao
Tsao & McKown Architects
Vivian Fei Tsen
Urban Planner
Mark Wigley
Dean, Columbia University GSAPP
Jiang Wu
Department of East Asian Studies, University of Arizona
Wei Guo Xu
Tsinghua University, School of Architecture
Kongjian Yu
Dean, Peking University, School of Landscape Architecture
Alehandro Zaera-Polo
Foreign Office Architects

Participating Organizations (as of 5-22-09)
Harvard University
Yale University
MIT
University of Southern California
Columbia University
Princeton
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University
Sci-Arch
University of Michigan
University of Tennessee
B.A.S.E. Beijing
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Woodbury University
Architectural Association