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Divergent Convergence: Speculations on China

A landmark exhibition in the heart of Beijing, exploring the future of architecture and urban design in China.

August 23, 2009 12:00am to September 20, 2009 12:00am

“Divergent Convergence: Speculations on China” draws on more than 10 years of ideas from design research laboratories in China.

Established by leading Western architecture schools — including MIT, Harvard, USC and UC Berkeley — these so-called “China studios” have introduced top architecture students, researchers and theorists to metropolitan explosion and rapid demographic change in China. The best responses from the last decade are collected for the first time in this juried exhibition.

Sponsored by the USC American Academy in China, “Divergent Convergence” is led by a steering committee of prominent architects and thinkers, including Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Calvin Tsao and artist Ai Wei Wei, among others.

“This exhibition is not simply a subjective response to contemporary China’s condition, as one might find in an exhibition of contemporary art — it is the result of a collective effort to find new ways to influence reality,” said Joseph Grima of the Storefront for Art and Architecture, who is a curator of the exhibit.

China will have 221 cities with more the one million people by 2025 (Europe is projected to have 35 such cities). Twenty-five Chinese cities will have more than 5 million people. How architects and urban planners anticipate the accompanying issues of population density, rural development, historic preservation, sustainability and civic unrest will provide lessons in smart urban design for cities worldwide.

“We will have to learn to live in a coordinated and collaborative way. Individuality and density do not go hand in hand,” said Qingyun Ma, dean of the USC School of Architecture.

“Divergent Convergence,” organized by Ma, founder of the USC American Academy in China, offers provocative and controversial models for Chinese audiences about how we might begin to address the most critical questions facing the future of megacities and urban culture.

“This exhibition is long overdue,” Ma said. “Urban problems are never simply local, and solutions for current urban China have to be investigated by multiple minds.”

Opening Event
August 23

2 p.m. Exhibition opens

3-6 p.m. Forum (Panelists will include Jeffrey Johnson, director, China Lab, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; Margaret Crawford, professor, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Sean Chiao, senior vice president and regional chair, Asia, EDAW|AECOM; and Qingyun Ma.)

6-8 p.m. Reception

Adam Smith
(213) 740-0872


University of Southern California
Harvard University
Yale University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Columbia University
Princeton University
University of Pennsylvania
Cornell University
Southern California Institute of Architecture
University of California at Berkeley
University of Tennessee
B.A.S.E. Beijing
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Woodbury University
Architectural Association
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
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
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
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