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GSD Reception at Your Harvard: China

For over a year, Harvard University President Drew Faust has traveled the globe to share her vision for the University’s future through the Your Harvard event series. With previous stops in London, Los Angeles, New York, Mexico City, Dallas, and Seattle, this past month the University hosted Your Harvard: China in Beijing. As part of this celebration, the Graduate School of Design held a number of satellite events geared toward the School’s alumni and friends. Notable among these were an unveiling ceremony for the hub of a collaborative research project, and an alumni reception where guests learned more about the GSD's studios, research, and other work in China.

On the afternoon of March 15th, representatives from the GSD, Tsinghua University, and the Evergrande Corporation met to celebrate the Green Building Research Base in Beijing. Unveiled at this event, the Green Building Research Base will support researchers from these premier institutions to advance the study of energy efficient buildings and cities in China. To mark the occasion, the directors of each school’s research center—Ali Malkawi of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) and Zhu Yingxin of the Tsinghua-Evergrande Green Building Research Center—offered remarks citing the ambitious agenda for their global collaboration.

Soon after the unveiling ceremony, the School hosted a reception with recent alumni, faculty, and friends. Yvonne Szeto MArch ’79, GSD Alumni Council and Josep Lluís Sert Council member, welcomed the group with a call to action to support the GSD and introduced the Grounded Visionaries campaign video. Dean Mohsen Mostafavi then welcomed guests and reflected on the GSD’s growing Chinese student body, history of collaboration with Chinese institutions, and continued engagement in China through research projects and studio pedagogy.

Nine incoming GSD students, all starting in the fall, attended the reception and were excited to get a photo with the Dean. The youngest aspiring designer in the room however was Hairen Que, whose father, Zhenqing Que MDesS ’08, registered him for the event. 

To wrap up the day, GSD reception guests joined more than 430 alumni, faculty, and friends of the University gathered for Your Harvard: China. Hosted by the Harvard Clubs of Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, the evening program included an interactive discussion with distinguished faculty and alumni, a keynote address by President Faust, and a larger, University-wide reception.

HAA President Cynthia Torres introduced the panelists—including the GSD’s own Ali Malkawi, with George Yeo MBA ’85, and FAS Professor of Science Xiaowei Zhuang—for a discussion on the nature of their research. The conversation topics ranged from advanced visualizations for buildings and cities to bio-imaging and nanoscale technology. In explaining the similarities between his own research and that of Zhuang (on cell biology and disease), Malkawi shared, “At the end of the day, what we both do is to try to visualize the invisible.”

Following the panel discussion, President Faust took the stage to extoll the power and potential of the University’s global research agenda, and to highlight the University’s growing ties to China. She noted that over 800 Chinese men and women are currently enrolled at Harvard, and emphasized the importance of global inquiry, multi-disciplinary scholarship, and broadening the scope of knowledge. (Notably, about 16% of all Chinese students enrolled the University are studying at the GSD.)

Two days later, at Tsinghua University, President Faust addressed a crowd of students, faculty, and journalists to speak about the University’s responsibility to address climate change. Faust offered, “Global problems require global partners. Climate change is a perfect example. We breathe the same air. We drink the same water. We share the planet. We cannot live in a cocoon. The stakes are too high.”

The GSD is tackling issues such as climate change, sustainability, and resilience through the CGBC as well as other projects, studios, and centers in Cambridge, and around the world.

View pictures of the GSD Reception in Beijing on our Facebook page, or download all the images here. You can also read more about the exciting Your Harvard: China activities via the Harvard Gazette’s A Celebration in Beijing and Faust: Colleges have ‘special’ role in fighting climate change.