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Architecture in China: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Architecture in China: A Blend of Tradition and Modernity
Visit iconic buildings of historical and modern significance in multiple cities across Mainland China and Hong Kong. Students will be exposed to the juxtaposition of the traditional and modern in an exciting environment of growth and globalization.
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Architectural Engineering
Program Type: 
  • Study historical and contemporary iconic buildings throughout Mainland China and Hong Kong.
  • Meet Chinese students and professors from Southeast University, School of Architecture, and Urban Planning in Nanjing, China.
Program Summary: 

China’s mass modernization and urbanization effort has created an interesting living lab for students of architecture, landscape and urbanism. The juxtaposition of traditional and modern architecture and the exciting yet challenging city growth offers students a unique opportunity to critically analyze the tension between deeply rooted culture, tradition, and unstoppable trends of globalization. Meanwhile, it allows students to develop comparative analysis to the Western counterparts.

The Architecture in China program travels to Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou, Xian Beijing and Hong Kong. Students will be exposed to both historical and contemporary iconic buildings. To enrich the learning process, students of the program will also interface with students and professors at Southeast University, School of Architecture, and Urban Planning in Nanjing, China.

Depart U.S.: Sunday, June 4, 2017
Arrive in Shanghai: Monday, June 5, 2017
Depart Hong Kong & Arrive in U.S.: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Students will spend approximately 6 days in Shanghai, 4 days in Nanjing, 3 days in Xian, 6 days in Beijing, and 5 days in Hong Kong.  Most of the study abroad program will consist of planned group activities along with some free time.

Shanghai (6 days): The program begins in Shanghai, an international mega-metropolis with a population of more than 23 million. It has been a center of commerce and arts between east and west since 1930s. Students will experience the interesting blend of tradition and modernity in Shanghai.

  1. Traditional architecture: The City God Temple, Yuyuan Garden.
  2. Traditional architecture: Shikumen Shanghai traditional townhouse, Xintiandi, Tianzifang
  3. Modern architecture: The Bund: Neoclassical HSBC Building, Art Deco: Park Hotel/ László Hudec Peace Hotel
  4. Lujiazui Commercial District: Shanghai Tower/Gensler, Oriental Pearl Tower/Jiang HuanCheng, Jin Mao Tower/SOM, Shanghai World Financial Center/KRF (with access to the observation deck).
  5. People’s Park, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Shanghai Grand Theatre/ARTE founded by French architect Jean-Marie Charpentier; Shanghai Museum/Xing Tonghe; and Nanjing Xi Pedistrian Street.
  6. The Shanghai World Expo: The Shanghai Art Museum,
  7. Giant Interactive Group Corporate Headquarters/Morphosis Architects

Students will also take excursion day trips to Suzhou.

Suzhou Students will visit Chinese traditional gardens including the Humble Administrators’ Garden, the Lingering Garden. After a walk along the Ping Jiang Road which is a revitalized ancient street, participants will visit Suzhou Museum by I.M.Pei.

Nanjing (4 days):

  1. Participants will visit Southeast University, School of Architecture, and Urban Planning, interact with local professors and students. Students will then visit the Qinhuai area, walk along Qin Huai River and visit Confucius Temple, once an imperial examination testing center, now a massive market.
  2. Chinese International Modern Architecture and Art Expo is a utopia of experimental architectural practice. It has over twenty unique architectures of different functionalities, including the Sifang Art Museum by Steven Holl, the recreation center by an Italian architect Ettore Sottsass, the conference center by Arata Isozaki, the hotel Monochrome by Jiakun Liu, and several houses and pavilions designed by famous architects such as Yonghe Zhang, Lei Zhang, and recent Philitzer winners Shu Wang, Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa.
  3. Visit the Purple Mountain, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, and Dr. Sun Yat-sen Maosoleum.

Xian (3 days):

  1. Visit Ancient City of Xi’an, which is one of the oldest capital city of Chang’an for several dynasties. Students will visit drum tower and bell tower, walk along the old streets and visit West Fair Museum of Tang Dynasty.
  2. Visit Chang’an University and local students will take our students to tour modern City of Xi’an. Experience the authentic Xi’an Street Food Fair. Visit the tallest wood structure in China: Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Small Wild Goose Pagoda.
  3. Visit one of the most impressive scenery in Xi’an: the Mausoleum of First Qin Emperor and Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum.

Beijing (6 days):

  1. Temple of Heaven, Laoshe Tea House, Houhai
  2. Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, National Center for Performing Arts/Paul Andreu, and National Museum of China/GMP
  3. Summer Palace
  4. The Olympic Park, including Bird Nest: Beijing National Stadium/Herzog & de Meuron, the Water Cube: National Aquatic Center/Australian PTW, ARUP, and CCDI, the National Indoor Stadium/…
  5. The new CCTV Tower/OMA Rem Koohaas, MOMA/ Steven Holl, Galaxy Soho/Zaha Hadid,
  6. Xiangshan Hotel/I.M.Pei, Tsinghua University New School of Architecture/Xiaodong Li
  7. Great Wall. Commune by the Great Wall, a private collection of contemporary architecture designed by 12 Asian architects: including Bamboo Wall House/Kengo Kuma, Furniture House by Shigeru Ban, and Split House by Yung Ho Chang, and other houses.
  8. Beijing 798 Art Zone, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Hong Kong (5 days): Hong Kong is a unique city in China where the Western and Eastern culture encounter and blend. It is the one of the most important center of commerce and cultural interactions in Asia. Visits in Hong Kong include many high-rise towers, including Norman Foster’s HK & Shanghai Bank and I. M. Pei’s Bank of China Tower; Kowloon Walled City traditional markets; Victoria Peak; AMMO Restaurant interior design; HK Polytechnic University Community College by Wang Weijen; HK Institute of Design by CAAU; Golden Moon Pavilion by LEAD; Siu Sai Wan Complex by Ronald Lu; ZCB Zero Carbon Building by Ronald Lu; Edouard Malingue Gallery by OMA; and Architecture School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong by Ida & Billy.

Academic Information: 

Academic Program

All Architecture students in the KU Master of Architecture (Tracks I, II, & III) must enroll in nine hours of architecture credit for this program.

  • ARCH 690 Architecture Study Abroad (6 credit hours)
  • ARCH 692 Documentation (3 credit hours)

All other students must enroll in ARCH 690 Architecture Study Abroad (6 credit hours).



Participants will stay in centrally located hotels in Shanghai, Nanjing, Xian, Beijing and Hong Kong.  



The program is open to the following students:

  • KU Masters of Architecture Students (Track I, II & III) who have completed either ARCH 208 or ARCH 502
  • KU Design students
  • KU Architectural Studies Students
  • KU Architectural Engineering students
  • Non-KU Architecture and Design students who have completed second year of study

Priority will be given to KU Architecture and Design students.

Further Reading: 

For more information, contact:

Hui Cai, Assistant Professor
Architecture Department
112 Marvin

Program Faculty: 

Hui Cai Ph.D., an Assistant of Architecture at the University of Kansas, has worked with leading Chinese architectural design firms and conducted collaborative research with Chinese academic institutions for years.


Study Abroad Financial Advising

The Office of Study Abroad has weekly 'You Can Afford to Study Abroad' Financial aid and Scholarship Info Sessions/Open Meetings on Wednesday afternoons from 4:00-5:00 pm and Thursday afternoons from 12:30-1:30 pm in room 203 Lippincott Hall.  For those that can not attend the weekly Info Sessions, we also offer individualized study abroad financial planning as well as financial aid and scholarship advising for students.  Please visit 108 Lippincott Hall or call 785-864-3742 to set up an appointment.

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