• Designing Reform: Architecture in the People's Republic of China, 1970–1992
    Cole Roskam
    Yale University Press, 2021
    Cole Roskam

Becket International, Great Wall Hotel, 1984, Beijing, China. Photo: Cole Roskam.

Designing Reform examines how architecture—as both an art and a science, as a form of economic production and cultural expression—mitigated the ideological complexities and contradictions of China's economic liberalization while reifying its material benefits. Buildings were valuable agents with spaces, practices, and operational mechanisms that normalized the procedural and ideological inconsistencies posed by China's shift toward more market-oriented economic policy over the course of the mid-1970s through 1989. More than simply a static symbol of post-Mao China's successful modernization, architecture may be understood as actively conditioning the country's dramatic shift from one economic and social reality to another. Architectural form, discourse, and practice were important conduits through which China reintroduced itself to much of the capitalist world. Understanding architecture's role in China's early reform era, which remains a formative moment of restructuring in the country's history, illuminates how the culture and industry of architecture work in China today.

Cole Roskam is associate professor of architectural history in the Department of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. His research explores architecture's role in mediating moments of interaction and exchange between China and other parts of the world. His research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Fulbright-Hays Program, the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and the Research Grants Council, University Grants Committee of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, among others. His articles and essays have appeared in Architectural History, Grey Room, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, among others. He is the author of Improvised City: Architecture and Governance in Shanghai, 18431937 (University of Washington Press, 2019). His second book, Designing Reform: Architecture in the People's Republic of China, 19701992, is published by Yale University Press.