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Zou Crossman Wen
University of Pennsylvania Featured Alumnus ¨C Andy Wen

We are proud to feature alumnus Andy Wen, Ph.D. Andy graduated with a degree in Architecture from the School of Design. He is an award winning Design Architect and the Design Director at Aedas in Beijing that works on international projects, including master plans, residential towers, apartment complexes, villas, 5-star hotels, plazas and offices. He has more than 16 lines of designer furniture, lighting and accessories, with styles ranging from modern to Asian contemporary. He is also a professor Tsinghua University and Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing where he teaches graduate level architectural and design students.

Life After Penn
After completing his degree at Penn in 1990, Andy returned to Taiwan and taught at a school his grandmother founded (now known as Ming Chuan University); Andy started the Department of Architecture in 1992. Ming Chuan University is one of the largest private universities in Taiwan with more than 20 schools and over 20,000 students.

Andy¡¯s grandmother was the personal assistant to Madam Chiang Kai Shek. Her special relationship with Madam Chiang allowed her to fulfill her dream to do something for Chinese women and start a vocational school. They were well trained and their services highly desired; many also went on to become Miss Taiwan

While teaching at Ming Chuan University, Andy decided to continue his education and went to Tsinghua University. He was completely new to living in the mainland (versus just visiting), although his wife is Beijing ren. His plan was to come to study for a year and then return to Taiwan. That was 16 years ago.

Andy on Design
Andy says all projects in China must have meaning ¨C projects must be related to time, people, culture, place, etc.; so, architecture has meaning and lasts and lasts. He feels that China is most special now because you cannot do daring projects in many other parts of the world. China can due to its long history.

Andy worked in Boston for four years before going to Penn. Designing there was somewhat restrictive due to its very conservative nature ¨C ¡°everything must be contextual right down to the very last brick he says.¡±

Greatest Influence
The father of Modern Architecture in China, Liang Sicheng, and his wife, Lin Huiyin , are Penn alumni. Liang Sicheng is the most highly regarded architect in China. Andy is proud to follow in the footsteps of such an accomplished and famous architect from China. See our feature on Liang Sicheng here http://pennclubbeijing.com/aboutpc.html.

Andy on Teaching
Andy is a professor at Tsinghua. Andy has spent time teaching in the United States and China. When asked about the differences between students in China and the U.S., Andy explained that he finds the Chinese students more eager and hard working and technically trained better, whereas, American students are deeper thinkers and push more on theories, ideas and concepts.

Andy¡¯s wife is a professor of Architecture; together, they have designed and delivered courses in China and the United States.

Beijing through the Years and Its Architecture
Andy likes to talk about his first time in Beijing in the 1980s. He won a national competition as a student at Penn State University and was awarded a $6,000 prize that had to be used for travel. He decided to visit mainland China.

Everything was gray; everyone wore similar clothes; everyone rode bikes; and, it was hard to find restaurants. The city had its own unique charm and identity. Now, Beijing is like any other large city. Previously, Beijing was ¡°more severe with lots of character.¡± It¡¯s much easier to live here now since it¡¯s more international with many conveniences.

When Andy reflects on what the architectural landscape was like in Beijing 16 years ago when he first arrived, he found the traditional buildings amazing. There was little modern architecture or mostly bad modern architecture. What we see today are superb international buildings. Now, this architecture really can¡¯t be done anywhere else in the world. When the Chinese set their mind to do things, it gets done at a very fast pace. The speed is amazing. The construction is exceptional. Deadlines for big projects mandated by the government happen on time.

Andy¡¯s Family Life
Andy met his wife Hua Wu at Penn State. She was the first Chinese woman he¡¯d ever met. They now have two sons that attend school in Beijing. His sons are gaining a cultural understanding of China that he didn¡¯t get growing up in the U.S. So, they have both a great Chinese influence and American influence in their lives.

Andy was born in Taiwan, moved to the U.S. when he was eight years old and grew up in New Jersey with his older brother and younger sister.

Most Unusual Experience in Beijing
When asked about his most amazing or unusual experience in Beijing, Andy recalls the time he was stopped by the Beijing police while driving after having just one alcoholic drink. He wound up spending over eight hours at the police station explaining that he had just one drink. That day he learned from the police that you cannot even have one drink and drive. His problems were further complicated when he couldn¡¯t locate the proper identification because his wife had put it in a ¡°safe¡± place. Andy spent the following day paying over 5,000 rmb in fines. Andy¡¯s lesson from this story is do not drink (anything) and drive in Beijing.

Involvement in the Penn Club of Beijing
This is really the first time that Andy¡¯s really been involved in the Penn Club of Beijing. He attended some events in the past. He feels that an active Penn Club in Beijing is important. It is a way to associate with professionals from different backgrounds. People from different schools and majors offer different perspectives and keep the club interesting. In previous years, he knew more alumni from other Ivy League schools. This is changing due to a more active Penn Club of Beijing.

Andy¡¯s got great ideas as far as things he¡¯d like to see the club accomplish. He enjoys seeing an active club where things happen and we get things done, including improving local schools with Penn alumni support, providing scholarships, building libraries, and lecturing at local high schools, for example. He has experience building schools and can one day see the club getting sponsorship to do the same thing; he can do his part to help the club grow by organizing students to build things in the community and increase Penn awareness in the community.

See www.aedas.com to learn more about Andy¡¯s company, Aedas.

Andy's profile.pdf
March 2010