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Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts

Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts

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    Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts
    Book Description:

    In the early twentieth century, Chinese traditional architecture and the French-derived methods of the École des Beaux-Arts converged in the United States when Chinese students were given scholarships to train as architects at American universities whose design curricula were dominated by Beaux-Arts methods. Upon their return home in the 1920s and 1930s, these graduates began to practice architecture and create China's first architectural schools, often transferring a version of what they had learned in the U.S. to Chinese situations. The resulting complex series of design-related transplantations had major implications for China between 1911 and 1949, as it simultaneously underwent cataclysmic social, economic, and political changes. After 1949 and the founding of the People's Republic, China experienced a radically different wave of influence from the Beaux-Arts through advisors from the Soviet Union who, first under Stalin and later Khrushchev, brought Beaux-Arts ideals in the guise of socialist progress. In the early twenty-first century, China is still feeling the effects of these events.Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Artsexamines the coalescing of the two major architectural systems, placing significant shifts in architectural theory and practice in China within relevant, contemporary, cultural, and educational contexts. Fifteen major scholars from around the world analyze and synthesize these crucial events to shed light on the dramatic architectural and urban changes occurring in China today-many of which have global ramifications.This stimulating and generously illustrated work is divided into three sections, framed by an introduction and a postscript. The first focuses on the convergence of Chinese architecture and the École des Beaux-Arts, outlining the salient aspects of each and suggesting how and why the two "met" in the U.S. The second section centers on the question of how Chinese architects were influenced by the Beaux-Arts and how Chinese architecture was changed as a result. The third takes an even closer look at the Beaux-Arts influence, addressing how innovative practices, new schools of architecture, and buildings whose designs were linked to Beaux-Arts assumptions led to distinctive new paradigms that were rooted in a changing China. By virtue of its scope, scale, and scholarship, this volume promises to become a classic in the fields of Chinese and Western architectural history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6101-8
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxii)
    Jeffrey W. Cody

    This book is the story of the convergence of two major architectural systems: Chinese traditional architecture and the French-derived methods of the École des Beaux-Arts. Unpredictably in the early twentieth century, the two systems coalesced in the United States as approximately fifty young Chinese students received scholarships to be trained as architects in U.S. universities, many of which had adopted design teaching methodologies derived from the École in Paris.¹ In the 1920s and 1930s, when the Chinese graduates of these architectural programs returned to China and began to practice architecture and to establish China’s first architectural schools, they transferred a...


      (pp. 3-22)
      Nancy S. Steinhardt

      Chinese architecture on the eve of the appearance of buildings associated with the École des Beaux-Arts—from the 1820s through the 1860s—was remarkably unchanged from Chinese buildings of the mid-eighteenth, mid-fourteenth, mid-eleventh, or as far as we know, the mid-eighth century. Even by the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century, when architecture designed with Beaux-Arts influence could be seen with increasing frequency in China’s cities, traditional-style architecture that bore signs of its multimillennial past remained the pervasive form in religious and residential construction. China itself, however, was not as isolated from Europe as it had been in...

      (pp. 23-38)
      David Van Zanten

      Architectural composition—what the University of Pennsylvania’s Dean Laird refers to above as “design”—was the core of Beaux-Arts teaching in America. It was to teach this that Laird had brought Paul Philippe Cret to Penn in 1903 and what indeed he taught supremely well. But what precisely was it?

      We have French texts explaining “architectural composition”: Julien Guadet’s magisterial four-volumeEléments et théorie de l’architectureof 1901–1904, Edouard Arnaud’s disarmingly explicitCours d’architecture et de constructions civilesof 1928; Georges Gromort’s confidentEssai sur la théorie de l’architectureof 1942, and finally Albert Ferran’s punchyPhilosophie de la...


    • CONVERGENCE TO INFLUENCE Introductory Perspectives
      (pp. 41-44)
      Jeffrey W. Cody

      Two systems for creating space and form—one rooted in China and the other in Europe—evolved independently, coherently, and divergently. The Chinese system assumed that the individual designer should be relegated to the relatively obscure domains of building practice. Nancy Steinhardt has outlined many other key features of that system. In Europe, largely because of changes stimulated by sea travel and architectural evolution brought about by the Renaissance, individual designers—or architects—were not only named as such, but they were also trained to be distinctive and creative, all the while emulating, as David Van Zanten has emphasized, earlier...

    • 3 CHINESE ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA IN THE 1920S Tradition, Exchange, and the Search for Modernity
      (pp. 45-72)
      Tony Atkin

      The Chinese architecture students attending the University of Pennsylvania in the 1920s and 1930s were part of a much larger vanguard of ambitious young Chinese determined to learn from Western technology and methods as a means of modernizing and reforming China. Western rationalism and science were attractive to the students because of their potential to revitalize China’s economy and society. Yet Chinese traditions and cultural norms still held enormous sway. Although their coursework and studios involved the rigorous study of Western accomplishments in architecture, most of them struggled with the idea of how to be modern (usually equated with Western...

    • 4 AN OUTLINE OF BEAUX-ARTS EDUCATION IN CHINA Transplantation, Localization, and Entrenchment
      (pp. 73-90)
      Gu Daqing

      Pedagogical methods associated with Beaux-Arts architectural education have been practiced in China for about eighty years. The historical development of this influence occurred in three major phases. The first phase began with the establishment of the first architecture school in China in 1927 and lasted until the early 1950s. This was the period when Beaux-Arts educational techniques were transplanted by Chinese students who returned from training abroad. This influence of the Beaux-Arts evolved from a few scattered experiments to eventually becoming a nationwide educational model. The second phase ran from the early 1950s to the early 1980s, when the Beaux-Arts...

      (pp. 91-126)
      K. Sizheng Fan

      In the 1950s China received a massive economic aid package from the Soviet Union along with a constant stream of Soviet experts assisting in nearly all critical fronts of China’s socialist reconstruction. To provide political justification for the Soviet assistance, Chinese authorities launched a campaign called “Learning from the Soviet Union,” in which they openly adopted socialist ideology from the USSR. The ideological affiliation deeply changed the cultural scene in China, especially for the intellectual sector of society. This chapter outlines the political background that necessitated and facilitated the importation of Soviet architecture and reviews its influence on the architectural...

      (pp. 127-144)
      Fu Chao-Ching

      The influence of Beaux-Arts methods in Taiwan should be assessed by examining architectural practice and education, both of which began to change significantly after Japan colonized Taiwan, from 1895 to 1945. The first part of this chapter will examine the implications of that colonization on the island’s architecture, explaining one way in which Beaux-Arts assumptions about architectural design were transmitted to Taiwan in conjunction with Japanese notions of architectural and urban space, form, and design.¹ A second, more intensive strain of Beaux-Arts influence began in 1949, when many anti-Communist architectural professionals accompanied the Nationalist government in its move from the...


    • INFLUENCE TO PARADIGM Introductory Perspectives
      (pp. 147-150)
      Jeffrey W. Cody

      The nine chapters in the section Influence to Paradigm explore the results of the First Generation’s return to China in the 1920s and 1930s. Although some of the implications stemming from their return have been broached in the preceding section, the chapters that follow differ from those in Convergence to Influence in their scope, scale, and themes. In terms of scope, there are discussions of modernism, individual architects, and significant works by those architects that exemplify their influence. In terms of scale, we move here from discussions of individual commissions to the implications of Beaux-Arts influence at the level of...

    • Yang Tingbao, Dong Dayou, and Liang Sicheng

        (pp. 153-168)
        Xing Ruan

        Yang Tingbao, who produced predominantly eclectic buildings in twentieth-century China, should be regarded as a modern architect. In 1983 a monograph of Yang’s architectural works and projects was published by the China Architecture and Building Press, the first such publication on an individual architect in the history of China.¹ Sadly, Yang did not see his own monograph; he died just a few days before it was printed. Although he was one of China’s most renowned architects, Yang has not merited even a footnote in the canonical discourse of twentieth-century modern architecture published in the West: he is, up to this...

      • 8 BETWEEN BEAUX-ARTS AND MODERNISM Dong Dayou and the Architecture of 1930s Shanghai
        (pp. 169-192)
        Seng Kuan

        Dong Dayou, also known as Doon Dayu, (1899–1973), is best remembered today for his Beaux-Arts-influenced plans and buildings for the Greater Shanghai Civic Center, which he carried out between 1929 and 1937 (fig. 8.1). Much less known are a series of modernist houses, including his own home, which he designed during the same period. Despite the paucity of studies about him, Dong was a significant member of what is commonly referred to as China’s First Generation of modern architects and ran one of Shanghai’s most prolific practices before World War II. His career illustrates the complex ways in which...

      • 9 ELEVATION OR FAÇADE A Re-evaluation of Liang Sicheng’s Interpretation of Chinese Timber Architecture in the Light of Beaux-Arts Classicism
        (pp. 193-204)
        Zhao Chen

        Liang Sicheng (1901–1972), founder of the modern study of Chinese architecture in China, was one of China’s most influential modern architects and China’s leading architectural historian from the late 1920s and even posthumously.¹ Liang’s most influential work before the year 1949 was accomplished when he was the pivotal member of the Zhongguo Yingzao Xueshe (Society for Research in Chinese Architecture).² Beginning in the 1950s he was a leader in the redesign of Beijing and the establishment of architectural policy for the People’s Republic as well as the most renowned Chinese architect internationally. Whether as textual researcher and teacher, or...

    • Lü Yanzhi, Zhang Kaiji, and Zhang Bo

      • 10 FROM STUDIO TO PRACTICE Chinese and Non-Chinese Architects Working Together
        (pp. 207-222)
        Jeffrey W. Cody

        In 1936 a Chinese scientist writing about the impact of young Chinese engineers and architects returning from the United States to China observed that “the introduction into China of railways, telegraphs, telephones, the new types of buildings and architecture, etc. which are distinctively inventions and achievements of the West, [has been] slow and generally improperly handled at the beginning” (fig. 10.1).¹ The writer then observed that, despite its dilatory nature and “ improper handling,” there were “many new types of architectural design, which generally exhibit balance with a touch of dignity in the structural composition.”² These kinds of general appraisals...

        (pp. 223-278)
        Rudolf G. Wagner

        The founding of the Republic of China in 1911 meant the end of a ritual continuum tracing back two millennia and stretching from the court’s ceremonies to the marriages, births, and deaths of the common people. It had included ritual signals and arrangements ranging from a mandatory hair style for men—the queue—to the legitimate cut, fabric, and colors of clothing people of different classes were permitted to wear, to the means of transport they were allowed to use, and finally to the imperial calendar that defined time. When the court’s ritual hegemony ended with the fall of Qing,...

      • 12 THE SUN YAT-SEN MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM A Preaching Space for Modern China
        (pp. 279-300)
        Delin Lai

        In his pioneering work,A History of Building Types, Nikolaus Pevsner interprets the rapid increase and evolution of different building types in the nineteenth century as the response to the modern transformation of Western society.¹ The book uses structures such as monuments, libraries, theaters, hospitals, prisons, hotels, and factories as examples. However, it overlooks two other important types—the classroom and auditorium. Serving as both facilities for mass education as well as lecturing spaces, these two building types, which I here call “preaching space,” have played significant roles in China’s modern transformation, especially for nation-state building during the Republican period...

      • 13 ZHANG VS. ZHANG Symmetry and Split: A Development in Chinese Architecture in the 1950s and 1960s
        (pp. 301-312)
        Yung Ho Chang

        Zhang Bo and Zhang Kaiji were prominent figures in the field of architecture in China, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s. Although not related, the two Zhangs shared more than a family name. Zhang Bo (1911–1999) was born a year earlier than Zhang Kaiji (1912–2006), and both received their architectural education at National Central University in Nanjing, today Southeast University, where the curriculum was based upon Beaux-Arts principles, and both worked at the state-owned Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and Research (BIADR) as chief architects from BIADR’s founding days in the 1950s until their retirements, 1995 for Zhang...

    • Chinese Cities

      • 14 THE BEAUX-ARTS IN ANOTHER REGISTER Governmental Administrative and Civic Centers in City Plans of the Republican Era
        (pp. 315-332)
        Peter J. Carroll

        “Since the municipal government is the administrative organ for the entire city, it merits the respect of Chinese and foreigners alike. . . . Given that architecture reflects a nation’s cultural spirit . . . municipal government architecture should be in a Chinese style to earn the respect of urban citizens.”¹ This 1929 injunction from the Shanghai Municipal Center Architectural Design Committee reflects the overriding concern of Republican state officials and city planners/architects that urban public buildings command universal respect as embodiments of the Chinese nation. These ambitions moved Chinese architects, many of whom had been trained using Beaux-Arts-inspired design...

        (pp. 333-360)
        Zhang Jie

        Beaux-Arts traditions in Chinese urbanism after 1949 were closely linked to authoritarianism, in which social values were promoted in architecture and urban design. However, after urban reforms were inaugurated in 1978, the nature of state power changed, resulting in the private and other sectors having greater importance in the country’s social and economic lives. In this chapter I shall provide a comprehensive overview of the forces and consequences associated with the processes that helped reshape China’s contemporary urban landscape, and I will suggest how the role of Beaux-Arts traditions in China’s urban landscape should be redefined. I will first examine...

  9. AFTERWORD The Four and the Five
    (pp. 361-368)
    Joseph Rykwert

    Paul Philippe Cret was an almost notoriously loyal disciple of the Parisian École des Beaux-Arts, where he enrolled as a student in 1895 and where he took his diploma with much distinction in 1905. The brilliant graduate was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to make the Philadelphia school a true colonial outpost of the metropolis. One of his teachers—the most distinguished perhaps—Julien Guadet, has, in his four-volume treatise,¹ left the best summation of the school’s teaching when Cret was a student, and even though it was adulterated with other ideas, notably, the structural rationalism of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc,...

    (pp. 369-372)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 373-386)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 387-387)