An Interview with the Design Team from KPF, Architects of STL’s New Building
(Interview by STL Students Hu Yue/胡月 (2L) and Du Yayun/杜雅云 (1L))
The new building of Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) is prominently located on the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate Campus (PKUSZ). The building is situated between the beautifully restored Dashahe River Parkway, on one side, and the PKUSZ campus central plaza, on the other.
The building is designed by world-famous architecture firm, Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF), whose masterpieces include IBM’s international headquarters, Shanghai World Financial Center, the headquarters of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and the towering Ping An International Finance Building in Shenzhen.
Fortunately, we earned an exclusive opportunity to interview the principal architects of STL’s new building: Jill Lerner, Elie Gamburg, Alex Kong and Wang Tianmeng. The main contents of our interview follow.
Q1: Why did you choose the task of designing the new building for Peking University School of Transnational Law?
A: I have known Jeffrey Lehman since he was the President of Cornell. I visited Dean Lehman when he became the Dean of STL. Meanwhile, there was a proposal of a new building for this innovative law school. KPF has an office in Hong Kong and had been taking projects in Shenzhen. We have done a lot of designs of academic buildings, including law schools. So, it was a terrific opportunity to partner with STL.
Q2: What were the preparations that you undertook during the process of designing the STL Building?
A: For an academic building, we had a lot discussions with the then Dean, faculty members, and students. We also spent a lot of time visiting other schools at Peking University in Shenzhen, as well as the campus in Beijing. We also researched other major Chinese universities, such as Tsinghua, Tongji and Fudan.
Comparing to our experience in doing educational buildings in Europe and the U.S., we tried to understand how education happens here in China. We tried to identify things that are critical for 21st century education and that may have been overlooked in earlier academic buildings.
Q3: How did you harmonize the design in order to meet the needs of the various users of the new building – e.g., students, professors, administrators, etc.?
A: We wanted some visual connections between the faculty areas and student areas, and the places where everyone would be comfortable working together. We designed an atrium to help bring the entire law school community together. It’s a place where students and faculty can meet formally or informally with one another, and students can comfortably study. We understand that students have different styles of studying. The design of the atrium, in a way, addressed a few of the different ways in which people study: (i) the open seating arrangements along the stairs cater to students who like to study in public spaces; (ii) the terraces with small tables cater to students who like to study in small groups; and (iii) the small nooks under the stairs cater to students who prefer studying in private. We tried to accommodate a variety of study preferences in one central space.
We designed classrooms in various configurations. For example, some classrooms are tiered horse-shoe shaped while others are more traditional flat floor spaces. Such variety addresses the reality that you have different professors with different teaching styles.
Q4: Was there any consideration with regard to sustainability and environmental protection?
A: We spent a long time trying to get the glass right. Because the atrium faces south we had to ensure that the atrium would not get too hot in the summer. This meant carefully choosing the right type of protective glass from the standpoint of heat protection and glare reduction. We used a special Low-E glass to make the space more comfortable and sustainable.
We wanted the atrium to face south so occupants had views of the mountains and river. There are few windows in the east and west of the building because, in Shenzhen, the sunlight is very strong in these directions.
There are many operable windows in the building to allow for fresh air and to reduce reliance on mechanical air conditioning systems. It’s nice when you walk out of a classroom and have fresh air, lots of sunlight and a beautiful view in the atrium. The idea of the atrium also encourages people to walk instead of taking the elevator, which promotes exercise and wellness.
Q5: What was the most challenging aspect of the project from the beginning to the completion of the building?
A: The most challenging part was the construction. We used different construction materials for different functions. We had locally sourced materials, materials from Hong Kong, and materials from overseas. During the construction, our architects regularly visited the construction site from our KPF office in Hong Kong in order to make sure every step went well. I want to thank STL Assistant Dean Chen Keru for her support and help. Without her, the construction process would not have progressed as smoothly.
Q6: What was the most satisfactory thing about the project and do you have any regret about the new building (if any)?
There was a famous architect who said that he had a very hard time going into a building he designed and completed because what he saw was only all possibilities that didn’t happen. Though I had a lot of respect for him, I actually never felt that way about this building. We do have possibilities, but the important thing is that we designed this building for you (the STL community) and it is you who will give life to this building.
Q7: What do you think of STL and Shenzhen?
A: This is a good question and our team members had a lot discussion about this. Shenzhen is an innovative, energetic, young and international city. So is STL. You are studying in a highly globalized, innovative and young law school.
Q8: Do you have any words to say at the end of the interview?
A: It has been exciting for KPF to be a part of this new venture with STL.
Concluding thoughts from the interviewers:
We were surprised by the architects’ understanding of the Socratic teaching style of STL, their sophisticated consideration of the variety of needs of STL students and faculty, and their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.
We have a strong belief that STL will continue to get better and better and our new STL Building designed by KPF provides the perfect nest for all STLers.
Professor Sang Yop Kang, a leading scholar of corporate law and governance, was invited by Harvard Law School’s Corporate Governance Program to spend January 25 to February 8, 2017 in residence conducting research, attending corporate law seminars, and collaborating with Harvard Law scholars and professors about mutual research interests.
On February 24-25, 2017, Professor Kang was invited by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law to make a presentation at their Comparative Corporate Governance Conference. Professor Kang was joined at the invitation-only conference by law professors from Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and University of California, Berkeley. Professor Kang presented on “King Lear” Problems: Succession and Corporate Governance Issues in Family Corporations, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Berkeley Business Law Journal.
Professor Kang teaches courses on corporate governance from the global perspective, economic analysis of corporate law, corporate and financial markets, and East Asian economic structures.
Professor Kang (right) with Professor Richard Buxbaum, a distinguished corporate law, comparative law, and international law scholar at University of California-Berkeley
Professor Dr. Stephan Jaggi was an invited guest on “The Point with Liu Xin,” an opinion program on CGTN (China Global Television Network) that explores news stories making headlines in China and across the globe. The February 27, 2017 episode featuring Professor Jaggi addressed issues around the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s selective ban of journalists from a White House press briefing. A taped broadcast of the episode is available here.
Professor Jaggi is a comparative law expert focusing on German, U.S., and comparative constitutional law and constitutional theory. He teaches courses on constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, and justice in STL’s innovative dual-degree J.D./J.M. program.
On February 20, 2017, STL students and faculty began the spring semester in the law school’s brand new signature building on the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School Campus. The move to the new building marks another important milestone in STL’s short history. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place in late March 2017.
The 8,900 square meter law building was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, one of the world’s premier architectural firms, in cooperation with Shenzhen-based Huasen Architectural & Engineering Consultants Ltd.
Highlights of the building include state-of-the-art classrooms, an on-site law library equipped with the latest in digital research platforms, several intimate seminar rooms, legal clinics, courtroom, law review and student organizations suites, outdoor terraces and reading gardens, highly functional faculty and administrative offices, and abundant student study spaces.
Nicholas Wang, a 1L student, commented on the building’s impressive features. “The new building has loads of public spaces, fully-equipped classrooms and a very nice law library,” he said.
Jonathan Pai, a 1L student from Canada, said he already feels at home in the new building. “It’s great to finally have a communed place of learning, one where STL students can feel at home with, ” he said.
Before moving into the new building, STL had been occupying temporary facilities across the PKUSZ campus. The new building brings the entire law school community together under one roof and marks a new era for the law school.
On January 14-15, 2017, Professor Ray Campbell and STL students Deng Zhicong (3L), Li Yidan (3L) and Zhou Yibin (3L) attended the “LawWithoutWalls” Kickoff at Harvard Law School. STL students Su Rina (3L) and Wang Wei (2L) also participated in the LWOWx online program.
More than 100 students from 30 top law schools and business schools around the world, including Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School and Wharton Business School, participated in the program. STL has been a participant in LWOW since the first session in 2010, and is the only school from eastern Asia ever selected to participate. Lawyers, law professors, in-house counsel, journalists, business people, and capital investors also participated in the program as mentors and team leaders. Student participants were assigned to 16 teams. Different teams were assigned different law-business-technology collaboration topics, such as artificial intelligence, legal education, and law firm management.
The two-day kickoff included a series of events, such as team exploration, improv + corporate communication, idea inspiration, startup pitch to VC, Hackathon, and other programs. In the Hackathon, teams were asked to identify a problem and develop a business plan of an assigned topic and then present it.
Deng Zhicong said of his experience, “LWOW opened a new world for me. It has helped me to keep an open mind and an open heart. I got to know more about leading-edge technology and increase my business sense. Throughout the kick-off, I worked closely with my teammates from Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School. The experience strengthened my skills related to project management, effective communication and teamwork.”
Li Yidan said, “LWOW is at the forefront of global collaboration. I have been working on my LWOW project since January with 12 other team members, team leaders, topic experts and advisors from Miami, Mexico City, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, Hamburg, and London. Each one of us brings our unique set of skills and experience to the table. Each individual is then armed with a pool of resources. This pool empowers me and demands me to push my limit.”
“The kickoff at Harvard Law School was a fantastic experience. The informative speeches on cutting-edge issues presented by the HLS Dean and faculty, the collaborative team building challenges, and the innovative trainings offered by the LWOW team have benefited my intercultural communication skills and vision enormously,” said Zhou Yibin.
2L student Wang Wei participated in the LWOWx online project. She said of her experience, “LWOW is a new challenge. I learned how to engage more effectively online, how to adapt to huge time differences among multiple time-zones, and how to adjust to different learning styles and manner of expression among teammates from different countries.”
LawWithoutWalls aims to create a global, transdisciplinary think-tank around technology, innovation, and law; to accelerate practicable innovations at the intersection of business, law, and technology; to hone critical twenty-first century professional services skills; and to cultivate collaborative relationships with clients, internal colleagues, and future talent from countries around the globe.
STL’s LWOW participants will continue to develop their business plans and work with their teammates remotely before meeting again in person at the University of Miami School of Law in April 2017.
Professor Norman P. Ho has been appointed a Visiting Fellow at the Asian Law Institute (“ASLI”) of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (“NUS Law”). As a Visiting Fellow, Professor Ho will spend approximately two months in residence at NUS Law pursuing his research, attending workshops and meetings, and contributing with seminars for the NUS Law community. Professor Ho is one of a select number of scholars from ASLI member institutions to be awarded the fully funded fellowship.
Professor Ho’s research focuses on legal theory and legal history, with an emphasis on premodern China, comparative jurisprudence, and property theory.
Students in STL’s Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic successfully secured a patent for their client, Urban Forest (都市之森), a new company based in Shenzhen. The patent was for a newly designed inflatable travel pillow. Three students assisted with the matter: Zhao Jiangyun ’18, He Yimin ’18 and Qi Xin ’18.
The Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic, directed by Visiting Clinical Lecturer Yuan Peihao, is designed to provide upper-level students with practical experience in legal research, advocacy, client counseling, and transactional practice. The Clinic focuses on advising Shenzhen-based small business entrepreneurial ventures on the wide range of business organization, intellectual property, and other regularly and personal (family law) issues that typically accompany the ramp-up effort of new businesses. The Clinic commenced operations in AY 2015-16.
“The Small Business Entrepreneurship Clinic has provided me with a unique platform, which enables me to put theories into practice. As I work on real-life cases in the Clinic, my sense of the responsibility of being a lawyer has been enhanced and my professional skills have been improved,” said He Yimin.
STL is a leader in teaching lawyering skills. The law school offers novel legal services clinics in which students work directly with clients under the supervision of an experienced lawyer, supervised externship opportunities for students during which students work with law firms and NGOs for academic credit, and J.D./J.M. curriculums rich with courses that focus on skills as well as theory.
STL’s 2016 WTO Moot Court Team won Best Written Submission and swept the Best Oralist Awards, earning Team Second Prize overall, at the Fifth Annual China WTO Moot Court Competition in Beijing on December 17-19, 2016. This year’s team is composed of four students: Kou Shangyangzi ’18, Wang Fengyang ’19, Zhang Jiayue ’19, and Zhang Xi ’19. Jiang Shan ’17 serves as the student coach.
The China WTO Moot Court Competition is jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (MOFCOM) and two distinguished Chinese law schools. This year, sixteen teams from leading law schools across China participated in the Competition. STL’s team prevailed over teams from Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Wuhan University in the preliminary rounds, during which team members Zhang Xi and Zhang Jiayue earned individual distinction as Best Oralist for the Complainant and Best Oralist for the Respondent, respectively. The team’s superior written work throughout the Competition earned them the Best Written Submission Award, and earned student coach Jiang Shan the honor of Best Coach for Written Submission.
“Competing in the WTO Moot Court has deepened my understanding of anti-dumping, an issue that often involves China. Advocating before the expert judges and communicating with them outside of the courtroom increased my awareness of and respect for WTO practitioners and their vision for China’s greater role in the stage of international trade,” remarked Zhang Xi.
Wang Fengyang mentioned the team’s great advantage in legal reasoning and argumentation, which she attributed to STL’s unique legal education and teaching methodology. She also enjoyed “the unique team dynamics” and the memorable experience of competing side-by-side with her teammates.
The next stop for the WTO team is Singapore, where they will compete in February at the Asia-Pacific Regional Round of the ELSA WTO Moot Court Competition. The Regional Round will be contested by teams from Singapore, Australia, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Korea, and several other countries.
(Special thanks to WTO student coach Jiang Shan for contributing this news.)
On December 12, 2016, STL’s Peking University Transnational Law Review was invited to participate in the “Symposium on the Development of English-Language Legal Journals in China,” hosted jointly by China Legal Science and Frontiers of Law in China. The Symposium was held at Renmin University School of Law in Beijing and included more than 50 invited scholars and editors from leading law schools, publishing companies and well-known China-based legal journals. The Peking University Transnational Law Review was represented by its Editor-in-Chief, 3L student Zheng Xinjia, and faculty advisors, Professors Ray Campbell and Sang Yop Kang.
The Symposium marked the first time that China-based English-language legal journals came together to discuss their shared missions of promoting international perspectives of legal theory and practice and of contributing to global academic discourse.
The Peking University Transnational Law Review was founded in 2011. It is a student-run journal devoted to publishing scholarly articles about transnational law topics.
Building on Peking University School of Transnational Law’s (STL) tradition of exceptional performance in the CIETAC Cup, the school’s 2016 Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team placed third out of forty-six teams from across China. From November 21–25, four students, Cai Jinlan ‘18, Guo Xin ‘18, Qin Shijie ‘19, and Zhou Rongyu ‘19, competed for the Cup in Beijing. A former best oralist and CIETAC champion, Yu Yadian ‘17, assisted as a student coach.
During the preliminary round, each of the students argued twice as pairs before panels of three arbitrators on behalf of either Claimant or Respondent. Based on their cumulative scores, the students advanced from the preliminary round in second place. The team went on to prevail over Shantou University in the quarterfinals, in which Zhou Rongyu won a best oralist award. STL then lost to Tsinghua University, the ultimate champions, in the semifinals.
The CIETAC Cup is sponsored by the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). Conducted entirely in English, the CIETAC Cup uses the same case problem as the international Vis competition, focusing on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, and simulates actual arbitral hearings.
Since it first entered the CIETAC Cup in 2013, STL has earned a reputation as a top competitor. Indeed, STL’s Vis team won the Championship in 2013 and 2014. Like this year, the 2015 team placed third. STL’s track record of success has made it a popular team to watch. As Cai Jinlan noted, “When numerous people were flooding into the room in order to watch our school, I was so proud of STL.”
For prior two-time CIETAC competitor Guo Xin, the process was about more than simply winning or losing; it was about personal development. Performing better than she ever had before, she remarked, “The best part of this is you finally know how much you’ve learned in STL.” Zhou Rongyu echoed her sentiment: “When I started preparing for Vis, I didn’t even know what arbitration was. I feel really grateful when I look back at the things I’ve learned, and I really appreciate the support from my coach and school.”
Zhou Rongyu was not alone in praising the school’s unending support of its moot court teams, which includes both financial support and close cooperation with faculty to refine essential knowledge and skills. To this end, each of the students had long lists of STL professors to thank for training and helping to work through tough substantive issues. More than just a group effort, the team’s success truly relies upon a school-wide culture that emphasizes teamwork and intellectual curiosity.
In the words of Qin Shijie, “When my partner and I were completely composed navigating through myriads of hard questions bombarded from renowned scholars, arbitrators, and ex-world champions of Vis, I suddenly realized how well STL’s everyday rigorous training had prepared us for the competition, and how far I had come since I entered this innovative law school. Studying at STL is one of the very best choices I have made in my life. The experience with CIETAC Cup is just one more proof to this conviction.”
Recipient of the Outstanding Contribution Award, Yu Yadian applauded the students for their ability to balance the competition and STL’s heavy workload. Remembering her own participation in Vis, she also spoke of the competition’s intangible rewards: “This experience is much more than a few rounds of oral arguments and a mountain of documents, and I am sure it will benefit them in a profound way, as it has benefitted me.”
As faculty coach to the team, it is worth stressing that, in addition to displaying superior intellect and skill in the rounds, the students conducted themselves as noteworthy outside the moot court room. With both students from other schools and arbitrators, they were respectful, cordial, and warm–in short, all that I have come to expect from STL. It has been wonderful to coach such dedicated and inspiring students, and I often feel I ended up learning more from them than they did from me. I will never forget the memories we shared together, from staying up late in the hotel to learn the results from the preliminaries, to hearing the decision in the semifinals. The students are what make teaching at STL a magical experience.
Although certainly deserved, there is little time for rest. The students already have their sights set on April when they will travel to Vienna to compete in the Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. Cai Jinlan is looking forward to “another amazing journey to Vienna,” and Zhou Rongyu anticipates even more fun in Europe. Speaking for the team, Qin Shijie summed up the entire experience as an “unparalleled adventure” that the team takes together.
That adventure has just begun.
(Special thanks to C.V. Starr Lecturer and Vis Team Coach John Aycock for authoring this news.)