Zhiyan Yang, “Exhibiting Contemporary Architecture of China: Experiments and Cross-Cultural Dialogues, 1995-2005”

Please join us next Wednesday, April 26, from 5–7 pm CT on Zoom for the third VMPEA workshop this spring, featuring:


Zhiyan Yang

PhD Candidate, Art History, UChicago

Who will be presenting the paper

“Exhibiting Contemporary Architecture of China: Experiments and Cross-Cultural Dialogues, 1995-2005”

Discussant: Meng-Hsuan Lee

PhD Candidate, Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

5:00–7:00 pm CT

*Please note that this is an online event and the unusual time. Please use this link to join the talk on Zoom. No registration is required. The password is “arch”.

Installation view of the New Urbanism: Pearl River Delta organized by Rem Koolhaas and graduate students from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Documenta X, Kassel, 1997.




A renewed investment in displaying contemporary architecture of China emerged and destabilized the existing exhibitionary paradigm in the 1990s as a result of the country’s historic urbanization movement and the increasing engagement with international capital, information, and networks. The three case studies, New Urbanism: Pearl River Delta (1997), Cities on the Move I (1997), and the design proposal for the Times Museum featured in the Second Guangzhou Triennial (2005), examine a new sensitivity based on international and interdisciplinary interactions among architects, curators, artists, and institutions. Situating these examples within a perennial tension between exhibition as temporally and spatially confined cultural production and architecture as a more substantial and permanent medium within the urban environment, I argue that these exhibitions became loci of self-reflexive experimentation, through which contemporary Chinese architecture can be interpreted as a form of knowledge production, an on-site experience, and an agent to provide concrete social and cultural changes beyond the exhibition space.



Zhiyan Yang is a doctoral candidate specializing in the history of modern and contemporary East Asian Architecture. He received his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013 and MA from the University of Chicago in 2015.


Meng-Hsuan Lee 李孟瑄 joined the PhD program at Columbia in 2018. He studies modern architecture, with a focus on Japanese colonial architecture and urbanism in Taiwan. Using the framework of screen genealogies, his current project investigates the rise of façadism and urban media culture in Taiwanese cities during the Japanese colonial period, particularly in the 1920s and 30s. More broadly, he is interested in the intersection of architecture and media, global colonialisms, and architectural preservation. Prior to joining Columbia, Meng received his M.A. in Humanities (art history) from the University of Chicago, where he wrote his master’s thesis examining the politics of urban memory surrounding Shih-Shih South Village 四四南村, a controversial architectural preservation project in Taipei. Previously, he received his B.A. in Drama and Theatre from National Taiwan University, where he also worked as a scenic designer.


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