ENV Students Study China’s Transformation into Olympic Host


ENV Students Study China’s Transformation into Olympic Host
During the China trip, students study modern buildings, historic structures and gardens in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou.

Rapidly growing and constantly changing, China is a perfect learning laboratory for students in the College of Environmental Design. With the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, students had a front row seat this summer at the city's transformation from a major metropolis into the Olympic host city for hundreds of thousands of international visitors.

For the fourth year, Professors Irma Ramirez, architecture, and Gwen Urey, urban and regional planning, led a group of students on a study abroad trip to China, where they studied the social, political, legal and economic factors that affect design and planning. Students worked with Chinese faculty, students and planning officials to study modern buildings, historic structures and gardens in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou. Their final project included a site analysis of a historic neighborhood and creating a conceptual design for the space.

During the trip, from June 27 to July 31, students watched major changes in Beijing's landscape leading up to the opening Olympics ceremony on Aug. 8. They observed the completion of sports venues, such as the “Bird's Nest” and “Water Cube,” witnessed three new subway lines open up for the first time, and watched traffic and congestion cut in half.

“The three weeks before the Olympics were the most exciting moments that I have seen because of the changes in the infrastructure and reorganization of the city,” Ramirez said.

“We watched the city being renewed,” said landscape architecture senior Tim Zhang, who stayed in Beijing after the study trip to watch the Olympics.

This summer's group included 11 architecture students, 12 urban and regional planning majors and 3 from landscape architecture. As an interdisciplinary study abroad program, students from all three majors worked in groups on a final project. They studied a historical neighborhood with traditional Chinese homes that features courtyards and connecting alleys. The teams had to create a design that would allow new, high-density development to move in without threatening the traditional buildings.

Jorge Felix, an urban & regional planning major, said working with students from other disciplines gave him a better understanding of the design thought process. “I found that working with other majors gives the project more validity. Each discipline had something different to offer to the project, which made this experience unique and memorable,” Felix said.

For more information about the China Summer Study Abroad Program, visit www.cpp.edu/~urp/programs/studyabroad.shtml.

The summer 2008 group included 11 architecture students, 12 urban and regional planning majors and 3 from landscape architecture.