USC American Academy in China (AAC)

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Established under the auspices of USC’s School of Architecture, the American Academy in China (AAC) strives to create cross-cultural collaboration between the United States and China by promoting dialogue around design, the built environment, and the arts.



The AAC engages teachers, students, scholars, practicing architects, artists, filmmakers, planners, designers, business people, government officials, and the public in interdisciplinary explorations of the needs and challenges facing China in an era of rapid change. Created in 2007, it has hosted students, professors, and thought leaders from USC and other architecture schools from around the world as they visited China to discover and discuss the country’s rich heritage and dynamic design culture. The Academy has organized symposia, exhibitions, and roundtables on critical issues of design, culture, and the built environment, which have produced numerous publications.


The AAC began awarding a research fellowship in 2016.  This annual award is given to a talented individual (or collaboration) involved in architecture, design, the arts, and the built environment.


The AAC is a place of learning, scholarship, and engagement with the complex realities of modern China. 



Clifford Pearson
Director, USC American Academy in China

Clifford Pearson is the director of the University of Southern California’s American Academy in China and a lecturer at the USC School of Architecture. From 1989 to 2015, he was an editor at Architectural Record, serving as deputy editor-in-chief for the last 10 years. More....




Qingyun Ma
Professor, USC School of Architecture

Named one of the world’s most influential designers by BusinessWeek, Qingyun Ma’s experience and involvement on an international level make him a leader in the design community with a great understanding of the contemporary issues in global urbanization. More....




Gary Paige
Director Emeritus, USC American Academy in China; Associate Professor of Practice, USC School of Architecture

Gary Paige is a principal of GPS (Gary Paige Studio), a Los Angeles-based multi- disciplinary design firm with a diverse portfolio ranging in scale and media from art installations and architecture to furniture and graphic design. More....




Geoffrey von Oeyen
Assistant Professor of Practice, USC School of Architecture 

Geoffrey von Oeyen is Principal of Geoffrey von Oeyen Design and Principal/Partner of von Oeyen Architects in Los Angeles, and teaches and coordinates architectural design studios as a faculty member at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Architecture. More....




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China In Flux


A presentation given by Cory M. Ticktin at USC's Global Conference in Shanghai in October 2015.
Cory M. Ticktin is a Design Director for Gensler's Shanghai Studio and is responsible for projects across Asia. A graduate of USC's School of Architecture (Class of 1985), he has more than three decades of professional experience leading large-scale design efforts globally.


► Download China in Flux



"Is America Ready for Vertical Urbanism?" Forum


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AAC Study Abroad Trip 2016

USC AAC 2016 Study Abroad Trip


AAC 2016 Shenzhen Exhibition and Symposium

"Rural-Urban Re-inventions: Bridging the Gap Between China’s Cities and Countryside"

AAC 2016 Exhibition & Symposium "Rural-Urban Interventions"


AAC Study Abroad Trip 2015

AAC Summer Program 2015

Each summer, the AAC collaborates with USC’s Study Abroad Program to immerse students in the critical issues facing China and its built environment. Students from USC and other universities travel the country—visiting the offices of many of the most innovative architecture and design firms, meeting with important figures in the art world, and studying the forces shaping both China’s cities and rural villages. 


In 2016, the program includes a two-week Field Studies Workshop looking at Three Megacities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong and a six-week Design Research Studio examining Rural Urban Prototypes. The Design Research Studio, in part sponsored by Chinese developer AVIC Legend, takes students to a rural village near Mount Lushan in Jiangxi Province to examine new economic models for sustainable development and propose innovative architectural prototypes for a rural area in decline. The students also get design-build experience at Jade Valley Winery in the mountains outside of Xi’an, and studio time in the megacity of Shenzhen. Field trips will take them to Guangzhou and Hong Kong to meet acclaimed architects and visit key projects shaping these cities.


An exhibition of work from many universities active in China and an AAC symposium are highlights at the end of the program.


For students who have never been to China, the summer programs are a fantastic introduction to a country that is changing at warp speed. For students who come from China or have already been there, these programs provide access to some of the most important architectural firms in the country and the chance to study in depth the forces shaping the nation’s cities and villages. For all students who want to make a difference, the AAC offers a starting point for a career that leaves an impression. 



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September 25, 2017

Room For A View: USC Students and American Academy in China Build a Pavilion outside of Xi’an

Toiling in the hot sun and sometimes late into the evening, a group of students from USC and the Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology (XUAT) built a wood pavilion designed by USC professor Geoffrey von Oeyen on public land overlooking a vineyard in Lantian, outside of  Xi’an.


21 September 2017

Symposium and Exhibition Participants Rethink the Village for the 21st Century

A dozen speakers from the Pearl River Delta and the United States discussed critical issues of Chinese development at a symposium in Shenzhen organized by USC’s American Academy in China (AAC).


June 5, 2017

Is LA Ready for Vertical Urbanism?

On May 9, the USC American Academy in China, in partnership with ChinaWeek 2017, held its forum Vertical Urbanism: Is LA Ready for Vertical Urbanism?


April 28, 2017

American Academy in China asks, "Is America Ready for Vertical Urbanism?"

This forum, to be held on May 9 at 6:30pm, will bring together some of the players shaping downtown LA and their architects.


March 4, 2017

AAC Applications for 2017 Open

"China: Future/Past" is a summer study abroad program that will examine the architecture, arts, and culture of a country that continues to transform at a rapid pace, while feeling the tug of its rich traditions.


October 19, 2016

Michael Sorkin: "Made for China"

Architect, critic, and inaugural American Academy in China Fellow Michael Sorkin presents on his experiences in China at the USC School of Architecture on October 21.


September 1, 2016

Exacerbated Differences and Shared Goals in China’s Cities and Villages

Architects, educators, and thinkers discussed a range of strategies for dealing with China’s expanding cities and declining villages at a symposium organized by USC’s American Academy in China on July 30 in Shenzhen. Entitled “Rural-Urban Re-inventions: Bridging the Gap Between China’s Cities and Countryside,” the event looked at projects in places such as rural Zhejiang Province, post-industrial Shenzhen, and super-dense Hong Kong....


August 16, 2016

Wrestling with China

In a lecture in Shanghai on July 21, architect and critic Michael Sorkin recounted his many battles to get his work built in China....


July 22, 2016

Robert A.M. Stern Architects Supports USC American Academy In China

The University of Southern California’s American Academy in China (AAC) is pleased to announce that Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) is supporting an AAC exhibition and symposium in China this summer....


July 11, 2016

Designers Tackle Problems of Growing Cities and Declining Villagers in China

The American Academy in China (AAC) is organizing an exhibition and a symposium in Shenzhen that examine one of the critical issues facing China today—the changing relationship between the country’s expanding cities and declining villages....


May 18, 2016

American Academy in China Announces Winners of Napavilion Competition

The University of Southern California’s American Academy in China (AAC) selected seven winners in an open competition to design prefabricated wood structures to be built at Jade Valley Winery outside of Xi’an in western China....


April 21, 2016

Acclaimed art historian He Xilin lectures on Finding Eternity: Chinese Tombs from the Han Dynasty

On April 20, He Xilin, professor of art history at China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts, gave an animated talk at USC on tombs he has studied from the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. -220 A.D.) Following the short-lived reign of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi....


April 18, 2016

USC American Academy in China Names Inaugural Research Fellow

The University of Southern California’s American Academy in China (AAC) announced today that architect and critic Michael Sorkin will be its inaugural research fellow, beginning his work this summer....


November 5, 2015

In Conversation with Clifford Pearson, New Director of the American Academy in China

Clifford Pearson has been at the center of the architecture universe as a writer and editor since joining Architectural Record in 1989. He was one of the first American journalists to cover the transformations happening in China related to urbanization, architecture, and design, and examine the broader implications of those transformations....


October 15, 2015

Clifford Pearson Joins USC School of Architecture as Director of the American Academy in China

Distinguished journalist and long-­‐time deputy editor of Architectural Record, Clifford Pearson, has been appointed Director of the USC School of Architecture’s American Academy in China (AAC) by Dean Qingyun Ma....


August 20, 2015

USC American Academy in China featured in Architectural Record

Clifford Pearson recently wrote a piece in Architectural Record on this summer’s USC American Academy in China program, which focused thematically on developments in the rural, “in-between” areas of China, alongside vigorous urban growth.


July 21, 2015

USC American Academy in China leads summer studio & exhibition

Students and faculty from the USC School of Architecture, in partnership with the USC American Academy in China (AAC), have been engaged in a summer-long program examining how the “middle zone,” or more rural, outlying areas in between cities, are growing....


October 24, 2012

AAC In the News

This summer The USC American Academy in China created an installation Minimal Relaxation at MoCA Shanghai....


June 29, 2008

USC American Academy in China 2008

For centuries, Western critics and scholars have kept their eyes on the East, but China's ever-increasing scale of urbanism and size of economy has focused the world's lenses on China. This summer's Beijing Olympics and the World Expo in Shanghai are mere precursors of the inevitable impact of Chinese urbanization....


Being There
AAC News