From Architecture to City—Thom Mayne, the International Architectural Master


On February 2nd, 2015, Hanking Elite Academy Master Course embraced its first speech of the year. The speaker Thom Mayne is a top architectural designer in the world, the winner of Prizker and the main designer of Hanking Financial Center. He was invited and flew all the way from America to Shenzhen for the speech themed “From Architecture to City”. He shared with the staff from Hanking and all the guests what he has contributed his life to in architecture and the stories behind.

Thom Mayne founded Morphosis Architects in 1972 and thereafter his team won 28 vanguard awards of architecture and 100 awards from American Institute of Architects under his leadership. He is not only a world famous architectural master, but a renowned scholar in architectural education. As a visiting professor of many institutions of higher learning, he assiduously cares the cultivation and education of young designers and therefore he was conferred the title of Commissioner of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He is also the commissioner of the Architectural League of New York and Urban Design Association, the academician of American Institute of Architects as well as the member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Design.

In the speech of Thom Mayne, he mainly illustrated his understanding of architectures and cities by an in-depth analysis of his masterpieces. In his opinion, architectures, as a major component of a city, are definitely in some relation with the people who live in the city and the city itself. His works include the buildings of Cornell University and the Cooper Union, the gallery in Dallas Texas, Emerson College, the light tower of La Defense, and Hanking Financial Center, etc. He has given a lot of thoughts and reviews on every project, designed every building by himself and has paid attention to every detail to seek for improvement. He starts from concept to the evolution of the whole architectural design, including test and measurement, experiments, reviews, and understanding of construction documents and steel construction documents, and then to drawing, founding and presenting the finished construction. He pays attention to the communication with every process of the making, the buildings and the society.

Thom Mayne mentioned that, in his impression, Shenzhen was a city of design, a vanguard city which could best represent China. In the structure-building of Hanking Financial Center, therefore, he utilized the structure of core-tube separation and linked the north and south towers together by a gallery bridge to present various dimensional relations of the office. In handling the external elevation, he applied simple broken line to combine the main tower and commercial podium buildings together seamlessly. The inward shape of the first floor can present more space and form naturally a broad city hall with Shennan Avenue. He hoped that Hanking Financial Center of 350 meters’ height could not only be the most wonderful masterpiece in his architectural career, but the representative work for Shenzhen.

On the spot, there were not only the members of Hanking Elite Academy, but elites from all walks of life. They felt very lucky to stay this close to absorb thoughts and concepts from the master. Zhou Hongmei, the section chief of Shenzhen Urban Planning, Land & Resources, also shared with the guests her understanding of architecture. Used to be an architect, she said, “I know every architect has an innocent heart of a newborn baby. They bear the ideal of the whole society in mind and would like to contribute more to cities or the public. They are all ecstatic about design and architecture!” She hoped that more enterprises in Shenzhen could respect and trust our architectural masters like Hanking did and could contribute more masterpieces to the city!

The success of Hanking Elite Academy Master Course has ignited the sparks of wisdom to design, architecture and cities in the international aspect. It also extends the constant pursuit of creativeness and quality from Hanking Elite Academy. In 2015, the Academy will invite targeted professionals or scholars from different fields to produce more academic exchanges and creativeness and to inspire students of architecture to think more about the relationship among human, buildings and cities. We will seek to contribute to building Hanking Group into an international and fashionable company that leads the trend of the era.