Importing American architecture to China : The practice of John Portman & Associates in Shanghai

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-333
Journal / PublicationJournal of Architecture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


The urban space of Shanghai has been forcefully shaped by American architects during the past thirty years. Among these movers and shakers, John Portman & Associates is the most notable because it was the pioneering American commercial design practice to enter Shanghai. It has actively participated in the process of Chinese urbanisation since the early 1980s. This paper reviews the practice's design projects in Shanghai: namely, the Shanghai Centre, the Bund Centre and Tomorrow Square. Each project - its intention, design, and usage - is analysed from the perspective of Chinese modernity in a 'global-local' context. The authors try to reveal the historic process of how American design rewove the urban fabric of Shanghai, and the reasons for and impacts of importing architecture from the West to contemporary China. © 2008 The Journal of Architecture.