I.M. Pei (1917 - ) remains one of the most celebrated yet under-theorized architects of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Though Pei’s six-decade career is mostly identified with his unwavering interest in cultural synthesis and the power of pure geometrical form, his work and methods of practice offer additional opportunities for investigating their dynamic intertwinement within multiple, consequential moments in the history of mid- to late twentieth century architecture, and their relationships with broader social, cultural, and geopolitical phenomena.

Rethinking Pei: A Centenary Symposium seeks to reexamine Pei in the context of the architect’s 100th birthday year as two linked conferences organised by M+, the new museum for visual culture being built in Hong Kong, with, respectively, the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University and the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Together, the events aim to resituate the architect from the intersecting vantage points of the two regional poles with which he’s most closely linked—Hong Kong/China and Boston/the United States—by bringing together architectural historians and practitioners, among others, to discuss new strands of inquiry concerning Pei and his work.

Rethinking Pei is made possible with a grant from the C Foundation, www.cfoundation.cn.

Date:
12–13 October 2017 (Cambridge, MA); and
15–16 December 2017 (Hong Kong)

*Talk registration details will be announced later.

Call for Papers

We are seeking papers that expand and deepen our understanding of relatively unexplored dimensions of Pei’s education, professional practice, and architectural production within the complex global, transnational architectural landscape that he helped shape, and was shaped by. A diversity of interdisciplinary perspectives, and scholars from fields outside of architecture, are highly encouraged.

Areas of exploration might include, but are not limited to, Pei in the context of: 

  • His contributions to the discipline of architecture, and its discourses and contemporary practices;
  • His early years in China, and education at MIT and the GSD;
  • Architecture’s participation in the Cold War;
  • The architect and/as developer;
  • The rise of the international corporate architecture firm;
  • The role of the “global architect” in developmental economics and the rise of global capitalism in the Asia-Pacific region, and post-reform China;
  • The migratory practices of post-1949 Chinese émigré architects from greater China, and Chinese diaspora architects from East and Southeast Asia;
  • Issues of identity and cultural representation in architectural design;
  • Postmodernism;
  • Engagements with notions of “Chinese spatiality,” especially the principles of Chinese garden design;
  • The expansion of the museum as a global institution; and

To Apply:
Interested presenters are asked to submit a 250-word abstract, along with a maximum 2-page CV, to peisymposium@mplus.org.hk. The application deadline is 1 April 2017. The paper has to be in English.

SUBMIT (E-MAIL)

Conference organisers will structure both events based on the papers received, and successful applicants will be notified of their acceptance, as well as their assigned venue (Cambridge, MA, or Hong Kong), by 1 May 2017.

Draft papers, limited to 10 double-spaced pages, will be due 1 August 2017.