The University of Pennsylvania's architecture school is known to many in China as the place where the late architect I.M. Pei briefly studied in the 19400s, before transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But decades before Pei's enrollment, the university was already taking in dozens of Chinese students who wanted to become architects and change their country's landscape, the most famous among them being Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin.
After graduation, this group of students -- today seen as the first-generation of Chinese architects in modern times -- introduced back home the latest developments in the theory, practice and education of architecture they had learned in the United States.
Yet little information about these architects was known to the general public, until Tong Ming, a professor of Tongji University and grandson of Tong Jun one of Penn's first Chinese graduates, started researching the group in 2015, and curated an exhibition to mark their diligence and contribution to the country.