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Wang Chiu Hwa Archive 王秋華檔案

1948–2017
This collection of archival materials consists of 1,599 items comprising photographs, drawings, portfolio sheets, printed documents, and slides representing the work of Taiwan’s foremost female architect Wang Chiu Hwa. Apart from a Percival Goodman-Wang Chiu Hwa Architects portfolio booklet and 61 slides representing Goodman’s personal work which Wang kept, most of the materials span 62 works that Wang had designed in the U.S. and Taiwan. These include all 53 projects (in the form of synagogues, residences, primary schools, a research centre in Taipei, a community college, and an urban design proposal) she designed as an intern, an Associate and later Partner at the New York City-based office of Percival Goodman from 1949 to 1978, as well as 9 selected projects (in the form of an eight-storey apartment building, university libraries, sports facilities and research institutions and laboratories) she designed on her own and in collaboration with Taipei-based J. J. Pan and Partners, Architects and Planners from 1984 to 1991.

The nature of Wang’s work in the U.S., as part of Percival Goodman’s office, was characterised by values and principles particularly espoused in the influential book Communitas (1947) which Percival Goodman and his brother Paul Goodman wrote. They encompass an attitude toward design and planning that was utopian in its ideals, pragmatic in its means, with a concern for social justice, rooted in what Goodman termed as ‘neo-functionalism’ – functionalism as more than an artistic method but a way of exploring the means to particular social ends. Goodman once expressed in the magazine Commentary (1947) about architecture’s first purpose as ‘not the building but the town square’, such that the architect’s principal task was to bring people together. These have manifested in the practice’s commitment to nurturing communities and public life in their design of synagogues and schools, and proposals for community planning.

In designing the series of public primary schools (P.S. 92) for low-income communities, Goodman and Wang introduced the open classroom system allowing for greater flexibility in group formation. Increasing the students’ sense of ownership of space was achieved through commissioning of student art, or in the case of Queensborough Community College through innovative implementation of plazas. Wang’s and Goodman’s commitment to the socio-economic-environmental health of communities also characterised the unsolicited proposal of Manhattanville-on-Hudson, designed in collaboration with their students at Columbia University.

Nurturing communities was also the main design tenet behind the practice’s well-known contribution to the design of the modern synagogue in America, with Goodman as lead designer of more than 50 synagogues and leading theorist on the subject until his death in 1989. The integration of modern art and architecture that set their practice apart from their contemporaries in the design of synagogues. Believing in the inadequacy of structural symbolism in the architectural endeavour, and the importance of art in beautifying and activating ritual spaces through thoughtful creation to enhance the congregation’s experience, Goodman and Wang dedicated themselves to involving contemporary artists such as Robert Motherwell, Ibram Lassaw, Seymour Lipton, Herbert Ferber, Adolph Gottlieb and Michael Craig-Martin, to participate in the design process early and providing space in the architectural plans for their artworks, such that they become part of the total design, yet speaking with a voice of its own. These collaborations had resulted, for example, in Gottlieb’s Torah curtain and Motherwell’s lobby mural “The Wall of the Temple” in Congregation B’nai Israel (1951).

The nine projects in Taiwan represents Wang’s first ten years of practice following her return to Taiwan in 1979. Wang earned the title ‘Taiwan’s mother of libraries’ not only for the many university libraries she designed but also for her pioneering a new kind of library in Taiwan. Her role in designing libraries began by being a consultant, and later interior and furniture designer, for one of Taiwan’s most significant public library National Central Library, which led to a major commission of designing the library of Chung Yuan Christian University (1985). The plans and sections of each libraries reveal Wang’s mastery in spatial planning for diverse and multiple programming. Wang’s spatial strategy in how buildings, in particular libraries, are physically and visually accessed and framed from other parts of the campus as well as within the building, also demonstrate her intention in making institutional buildings more than spaces for facilitating an activity, but multi-purpose centres characterised by an imageability that asserts itself as a point of reference for sociability.

Wang Chiu Hwa’s work is of research interest not least in light of her role as one of the very few Chinese female architects practicing in America and Taiwan since the 1950s. Her family background as daughter of Republican China’s Education Minister and her architectural training in China’s first architecture school at National Central University in early 1940s China and at the University of Washington and Columbia University in the late 1940s, as well as her architectural practice in post-war America – in partnership with one of the more socially progressive architect Percival Goodman – represent China’s shifting modernities since the 1930s.

The Wang Chiu Hwa Archive was donated by Chiu-Hwa Wang in 2017.
Arranged by original order devised by archive creator.

Details

Object Number
CA39
Archive Creator
Archival Level
Fonds
Date
1948–2017
Dimensions
1599 items
Credit Line
M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Chiu-Hwa Wang, 2017
CA39/1

Architectural projects relating to educational institutions, mainly in the USA

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CA39/2

Architectural projects relating to religious institutions in the USA

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CA39/3

Other architectural projects in the USA

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CA39/4

Architectural projects in Taiwan

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CA39/5

Slide collections, postmodern architecture, houses, and artworks

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CA39/6

Printed material and original documents relating to Wang Chiu-Hwa and Percival Goodman

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