Amid the rush to modernize, Chinese cities are becoming homogenized and losing their distinct identities, laments Pei Zhu, principal of the eponymous office, Studio Pei-Zhu, which he started in 2005, after leaving Urbanus [RECORD, December 2005, page 100], the firm he cofounded in 1999. "Our studio seeks to create architecture that reflects contemporary Chinese culture, including its roots and contradictions. We want to energize urban districts."
Studio Pei-Zhu is enjoying some high-profile commissions right now. Earlier this year, Zhu was on a roster of well-known architects—Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Jean Nouvel—to design a piece of a multibillion-dollar museum complex in Abu Dhabi. Zhu has also been retained by the Guggenheim Foundation to design a future outpost for the foundation in Beijing. Although the project is still under wraps, Zhu reveals this much: "We have come up with an almost invisible building. Most of the structure will be fabricated in a factory, and most of the structure won't touch any of the old buildings. It's almost floating in a courtyard, and it can be installed on the construction site without any damage to the ground."