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The School of Architecture Building on the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus.

Feature: Building on the Hawai‘i-China connection

A group of UH Mānoa School of Architecture students, under the direction of Assistant Professor Kris Palagi, participate in a design charrette.

The worldwide allure of studying architectural design and theory in foreign countries has cajoled many aspiring architects to toil in classrooms while yearning to travel and study abroad.  Now University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa students need only go as far as the front steps of the School of Architecture Building.  Drafted plans to offer a dual graduate degree in Architecture—in partnership with Tongji University’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Shanghai, China—will become reality in Fall 2012.

Not only may Mānoa students with a pre-professional degree in Architecture elect to participate in the three-year global track/China focus, but those successfully completing it can obtain a National Board of Architectural Education (NBAE of China) Master of Architecture degree from Tongji University, and NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) Doctor of Architecture degree at Mānoa as well.

No other institutional partnership in the world offers accredited professional architectural degrees in the world’s two largest construction economies—the U.S. and China.  Said an excited Spencer Leineweber, FAIA, chair of the Architecture graduate program at Mānoa, “This innovative, timely, and empowering dual-degree track, for American students and their Chinese classmates, builds upon this School’s proud 35-year history. Also, this dual-track derives directly from the 2010 Vision Statement and Strategic Plan that identifies aspirations to pre-eminence in the Asia and Pacific Region, with a corresponding curricular focus.”

The international partnership builds yet another bridge between the Far East and the most western part of the U.S., where Hawai‘i’s pre-statehood history includes Chinese immigrant plantation workers.  UH Mānoa is the only American school of architecture in the Pacific region, and the sole in the nation where a majority of the student body consists of Asian and Pacific Islander minority groups.  Likewise, almost 5,000 miles away, Tongji University is one of the leading universities directly under the State Ministry of Education in China. Among its peer colleges, Tongji’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning boasts a comprehensive range of programs, including an architecture and urban planning post-doctoral mobile station that is the first of its kind in China.

Together, both schools are on the fast track to graduating architects who are appreciative of pioneering design and function from a global point-of-view.  The dual graduate Architecture degrees will become the newest connection linking Hawai‘i and China—both historically and now into the future.

For more information, visit http://www.arch.hawaii.edu or contact Spencer Leineweber at (808) 956-8724 or aspencer@hawaii.edu.

 Top photo:  The School of Architecture Building on the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus.