Qingyun Ma, Dean of USC Architecture School, to Curate 2007 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale

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Should cities have an expiration date like everything organic? Or should they be preserved as built? Both ideas need to be challenged, according to Qingyun Ma, dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture, who will be the curator of the 2007 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale that opens December 1, 2007 simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. This is the first bi-city biennale, which will explore the lifecycle of built environments and the need for revitalization to take advantage of new materials, technology and resource management techniques, as well changing trends in the way people live, work, play and communicate.

Qingyun Ma, dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture, will be the curator of the 2007 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale that opens December 1, 2007 simultaneously in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. It is the first bi-city biennale and will run through March 1, 2008. An estimated 100,000 international visitors are expected to attend.

"The idea of a bi-city and bi-annual comes from the notion of an urban hybrid which is not only a strong postmodern urbanity but also the essence of Deng Xiaoping's urban policy," said Ma.

"City of Expiration and Regeneration" is the theme of the biennale that will explore the notion of the lifecycle of built environments and the need for revitalization to take advantage of new materials, technology and resource management techniques as well as accommodate changing trends in the way people live, work, play and communicate.

"Should cities have an expiration date like everything organic?" questions Dean Ma. "Or should they be preserved as built? Both ideas need to be challenged," maintains Ma, noting that the media of inquiry at the biennale will be exhibitions, films, symposia and special events. Ma believes that architecture must make sense in the whole stream of the social construct and mass communication, calling this concept "an architecture without boundary" which will be demonstrated in the biennale.

Ma sees one of his curatorial missions as to showcase how information and imaging technology have reshaped our environment and our perception of the environment. He is calling this initiative "Digitopia/Geospace" and has invited technology and digital companies to participate, as well as architects, planners, artists and urban thinkers.

"The Shenzhen-Hong Kong megalopolis is the base of the creative industries in China, so it is a perfect venue for an exploration of the co-dependence of virtual reality and architecture in today's creative design process," Ma says.

The biennale will feature an exhibition, "Troparadise," that is based on an exploration of eco-urbanism on the tropical island of Hainan, China, and is the result of work from the first graduate global studio program called Delta Investigation and Inquiry that Ma instituted upon becoming dean in early 2007. The program identifies a specific global problem and brings together three universities, one of which is local, to address the issue. The first delta was formed by USC with Columbia and Tongji Universities.     

An internationally acclaimed architect and educator, Dean Ma recently helped curate an exhibition on Chinese contemporary art and architecture in Centre Pompidou, Paris. He is co-curator with Matilda McQuaid for a 2008 exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York called "Homes and Lives Transforming China." He served as planning expert to the International Olympic Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and has sat on important national competition juries, including the jury for the 2008 Olympic Stadium.

Recognized internationally for participative but uncompromising design, Ma's Shanghai-headquartered firm MADA s.p.a.m. is the most visible Chinese-based practice on the global scene. Among Ma's most recent designs are the China Pavilion for the 2010 World Expo and Silk Tower in Xian, which, at 100 stories, is the tallest building in Northwest China.

Established in 1919, the USC School of Architecture was the first in Southern California. Its academic program incorporates architecture, historic preservation, landscape architecture and building science at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Among the school's especially well-known graduates are Pritzker Laureates Frank O. Gehry (1989) and Thom Mayne (2005).

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