Bill directs Perkins+Will’s international practice in Asia, Africa and Europe. He has led many of the firm’s most successful global projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, South America and most recently Africa and India. These are the nations and continents where Perkins+Will has emerged as a leader providing exceptional, culturally-sensitive design solutions. Bill’s 25 years of professional experience in architecture, construction management and real estate development cover every type and scope of project. Recent project successes include LG Bundang Corporate Office-Research Complex, AMA Tower, the Qatar Foundation Education City projects, Universidade Agostinho Neto, H.N. Hospital and Reliance’s TFIPL Projects
M: Max from BEED Asia 必达亚洲 http://www.beed.asia
B: Bill Doerge Perkins+Will 帕金斯威尔
M: In the beginning of 1935, Perkins+Will’s first project was about education in Chicago?
B: The history of the firm actually predates 1935 and especially with regards to education. Dwight Perkins, the father of Larry Perkins who was one of the founders of Perkins+Will, actually designed an education project in China – at the Nanjing University – around 1908. It isn’t a direct line between Dwight Perkins firm to Larry Perkins firm – Perkins+WIll, but the firm has a very strong history in education. The firm, Perkins+Will, started in 1935 with a school – Crow Island. That school was considered groundbreaking. It was developed in the way that it was all put together: the design, the open space, the attention to scale – especially in the classroom of an elementary school.
The firm’s first university project was in the early 1950’s – at Cornell University.
The firm – Perkins+Will – began in Chicago and has a very strong history in education design. We have worked on almost every major university campus in the US. Our first international project outside the US was for a university in Mexico. If you look at the firm’s long history since its inception, it has been prominently rooted in education and the design of educational facilities.
公司的历史，尤其是教育实践活动，实际上要追溯到1935年以前。大约在1908年，帕金斯威尔的创始人之一Larry Perkins的父亲Dwight Perkins在中国的南京大学做过设计项目。尽管父子两人的事务所没有承袭关系，但帕金斯威尔在教育领域的确拥有深厚的历史根基。在1935年成立开始，帕金斯威尔设计的第一个教育项目便是克劳岛小学。这所学校被公认为具有开创性的意义。设计方式、开放空间布局、尤其是在小学教室里对尺度的重视等等都被巧妙地整合到了一起。
M: K12 Education or higher education? BEED Asia 必达亚洲 http://www.beed.asia
B: We do both. But obviously, higher education is a bigger market in terms of scale. (M: the campus) There are more, larger university campuses. The other issue with K12 Schools, primary and secondary schools, they tend to be a more local product. They use local architects that, for whatever reasons, are involved in these because it is a very community-based project. When we become involved, we tend to come into the bigger schools around the country – around the world – because of our expertise in education planning and our understanding of how they work.
We now have twenty-some offices in North America. To better respond this local preference, we are putting a K-12 group in each office.
The higher education market is a more complicated market involving not only academic buildings (classrooms) but more specialized building types. You get into student life. You get into sports and recreation and you get into larger campus planning. It can become a much more complex undertaking.
M: We checked on the firm’s website. Your firm did high schools in Beijing and Shanghai, like Beijing Shunyi International School. Can you talk about major education projects that your firm did in China?
B: The international School of Beijing was our first project in China in mid-1990s. In China we have also designed the Concordia School in Pudong and Dulwich across the street from Concorida – plus a number of international schools and campuses. We did phase one and phase two of Concordia. Currently, we are working with Shanghai American School for very specific buildings.
In higher education, we did a fine arts building at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and we did a research facility for the Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in Suzhou.
What we think is going to happen in the next few years is a shift in market focus. In China we are seeing a shift from the commercial market to the more institutional markets. We think there is going to be more emphasis on healthcare and education – which are our strengths.
M: What do you think are the differences between the China market and the American market?
B: I think there are differences. For example, admission policies between Chinese and Western universities and what that means in the preparation for college. The types of curriculum can be different. But what we are now seeing the evolution of more common teaching platforms – as economies become more global and technology becomes a more dominant factor; as some of the more traditional areas of study are overshadowed by more technology-based studies and more global or universal areas of interest. We are also seeing more collaborations between western universities and universities here. For example, the Xi’an (Jiaotong Liverpool) University in Suzhou. We are seeing school like the University of Chicago School of Business with facilities here (in the region). We are seeing such collaboration starting to create more cohesive and homogenous platforms. Yes, there are still difference. There are still nuances that come from culture or the focus. But it’s not as pronounced as it was say in 1908 when the Nanjing university buildings were designed by Dwight Perkins…or even as much as they were 15 or 20 years ago.
我认为两者是有不同之处的。例如说，中西方大学的入学政策以及由此而为升学所作的准备等等。课程的类型也可以是不同的。不过，我们正在看到较为通用化的教学平台的发展 —— 随着经济更趋于全球化，技术成为了更具主导性的要素；同时一些较为传统的学习领域因更具科技导向化的学习活动和更趋于全球化或普遍化的关注领域而变得黯然失色。我们还看到，中西方大学之间的交流合作正在增多。例如：苏州的西交利物浦大学。我们还注意到芝加哥大学商学院等高校还在这里（亚洲地区）设置了自己的教育设施。我们注意到，这样的合作开始创建出更有凝聚力和均衡性平台。的确，两者之间存在差异。来自于文化或重视层面的微妙差异仍然存在。但这种差异较以往而言，例如Dwight Perkins设计南京大学校园建筑的1908年，甚至相较于15或20年前而言，都没有那样显著了。
M: Projects that your firm did in China tend to be international schools, or famed institutions like Tsinghua university with more investments. So what about public schools or public universities? Do you see a market there in China for firms like yours?BEED Asia 必达亚洲 http://www.beed.asia
B: If you look at the elementary K-12, it is going to be a more difficult market for many of the same reasons that we find in the US market. K-12 schools tends to be a more local product. The community gets very involved and as they are spending local money they like to keep in the community. They tend to look at local architects from that region. They will tend to be more traditional in the way they look at education and how they structure themselves. I don’t think we’ll be able to be as a big player in the more local markets in the next years. In the K-12, it really is the international school market where they are looking for facilities that cater to the expat community or even Chinese students that want to prepare for study in the West – in the US or the UK or France or whatever.
M: We did some research on international schools. There will be almost 600 hundred international K-12 schools in China. Do you think it will be a big market for Perkins+Will in the next few years?
B: It has potential. I think it depends on how we position ourselves. The challenge we have as an international firm in a market like China that is maturing is we have to figure out how we play in this market, how we position ourselves. I think as a market matures, and this is true that any market that is maturing, you have to rethink your position in that market and how you provide services for that market. It has to be more localized. While we have certain expertise, we have to take that brand and that expertise and bring it more directly into the Chinese market and localize it, especially in the K-12 market. That doesn’t mean that we can’t tap in certain experts, but we have to have more solid delivery base here for services. It’s not as critical yet in the higher-education market because those can be more specialized buildings but it will be.
M: We’ve noticed that specialized buildings on campus like laboratory or student center may often be designed by an international architect. But at the construction phase, clients will turn to local design firms for services. So it is an opportunity for your firm?
B: Yes. I think it’s more so than in the K-12 market. Even in the US, when we look at the higher-ed market, there are very few green field universities developed from scratch. It is always a building on a campus. he buildings we design are the more specialized buildings – like the laboratory buildings and the research facilities. Another prominent area are student unions, or the student life buildings, or buildings for student activities. Higher-ed buildings tend to be more specialized. It depends on the focus of the university, what the curriculum is, what their focus is. Sports and recreation facilities are becoming another area of specialized buildings. If you look at a university, the more general classrooms or the maybe dormitories are less sophisticated than the lab buildings, or performing arts buildings, or the special engineering buildings. We are now involved with several medical education projects where medical universities link to a hospital, so we are able to bring our two stronger markets together – healthcare and education.
I think this is a trend you are going to continue to see with higher education – where the buildings for the education process become more driven by technology and more sophisticated as the universities adapt to what the economies and what the world is generally looking for.
M: We heard some horrifying news regarding the unacceptable air quality and toxic playground materials in certain schools in China. Material does matter especially to schools, where kids learn and develop. So we want to know your ideas in the selection of building materials or technologies on education projects? Is there any quality control measures that your firm is using now? How do designers and architects in your firm work in the material selection process?BEED Asia 必达亚洲 http://www.beed.asia
B: Our material selection is particular. What we have done in the last few years, and this didn’t come from our education or healthcare practice but from our firm wide focus on sustainable design, is our transparency website with its Precautionary List of materials. This is a list is where we identify materials that we believe are unacceptable and more importantly materials that have potential problems, whether it is toxic or just generally is bad from a sustainability standpoint. We generated our list of materials which we have concerns with and made it available on our special website (http://transparency.perkinswill.com). However, while we have a list of concerning materials, you can’t generate a list and say that’s it. It’s going to be a growing, evolving list, a living list that is looked at all the time and we do look materials. We are very aware, especially in education facilities and in healthcare facilities, of the materials we put there. Just using certain fabrics on a chair requires a knowledge of what we are specifying. Some material may use a more toxic chemical. We try to identify those. The trouble is, like I said earlier, it is a constant ongoing situation because things change and new materials become available. It is a constant, on-going effort that we are going through. We are aware of it and its importance.
One example is the use of asbestos in the 1950s. Everybody thought it was a wonderful product, so we used it everywhere. Then it’s just discovered that it has problems. That is not a question of design. That’s a question finally understanding what the limits are. Anytime a new product comes out, there is always a long-term impact that we won’t fully understand for a long time. What we can do, what we have to do is try to try to stay ahead of it, use common sense with certain materials, and try to identify things that have problems and most importantly keep them out of schools and keep them out of hospitals and healthcare facilities.
M: While US is a developed country, China now is a developing country. So do you think solutions in the US today could be used in China in the future, like design ideas or concepts on school projects?
B: What I see happening it is not so much about a US model is being brought to China, but rather that education is changing, it is becoming a different animal so to speak. Relationships – teacher to student, student to student, student to the university or the school – are all changing and this is impacting the types of space that are needed and in ways that we don’t fully understand yet. If you look the progression from teacher-student, student-student, to student, students are becoming more interactive with other students but they are also becoming more independent. “With plug and play, I can study at home.” One of the fastest growing university types is long-distance education. What we are seeing with the design of facilities is more emphasis on flexibility, on being able to more easily adapt to whatever the changes may be. This implies that some spaces that have more fixed typed seating – like a Harvard style classroom with tiered seating– may be less practical than a general classroom where you can change furniture layouts and change to different configurations. Technology allows things to be done a lot differently. Part of the reason for a Harvard styled room was the teacher-student relationship. The teacher was down front and you projected down to the front. The media was always fixed and controlled. With “plug and play” and wireless technology, this becomes less of an issue. We are seeing a greater emphasis on flexibility because the education models need this.
Buildings are expensive. Education building, especially research buildings can be very expensive. When you invest in these – like any other real estate issue – you have to get maximum value for your money. So the more efficiently and the more effectively you can use the space, the better the building – the better the value. Let’s say you have an auditorium for 500 people and you use it five times a week. Is that more effective than having eight classrooms that you can use twelve hours a day?
How does that affect your teaching model? How does that affect your attitude toward teacher-student relationships? These are the things that people are thinking about.
Another thing that is starting to happen – and this is again be effecting the types of spaces needed – is the cross pollinizing between different curricula. For instance, if it is more about problem-solving (rather than the transfer of knowledge), you may see an engineering student, a finance student with a business student working together solving a problem. You need spaces where these different curricula can come together – can work together, can collaborate. We don’t know exactly where all of this is going. We see trends. I think what this tells us is that we need to maintain a degree of flexibility in the way we design building and the way buildings are designed. If there is a lesson to be learned; if an example or a lesson comes from what we are learned whether the US or from around the world, it is in flexibility.
One of the issues that we see in addressing new trend in very traditional, old-line universities is they tend to be very traditional, and it is sometimes hard for these older administrations to break with that tradition and recognize that the more flexible spaces or more different types of spaces are important.
从我所看到的现状来看，与其说将美国模式引入中国，不如说教育正在发生改变，打比方来说，正在变成不同的动物。教师和学生的关系、学生之间的关系以及学生与学校的关系都正在发生改变，而这些正在影响着所需空间的类型，而我们对这些正在发生的新变化还没有全面彻底的认识。假如回看一下教师-学生、学生-学生等关系的发展演变进程，就会发现学生彼此的互动正在增多，但同时学生个体也正变得更具有独立性。“通过即插即用的方式，我可以在家学习。”发展速度最快的大学类型之一便是远程教育。我们正在看到的是，设施的设计更加重视灵活性，以便能够更轻松地适应未来的种种变化。这也意味着，一些设置了较固定式座椅的空间 – 如哈佛式阶梯教室 – 和通用教室相比可能就没有那样实用。在通用教室里，你可以改变家具布局，变成不同的配置方式。科技让一切变得大为不同。哈佛式阶梯教室出现的部分原因在于学生与教师之间的关系。教师在教室前面，你朝向前方就坐。媒介都是固定的和受控的状态。而通过“即插即用”技术和无线技术，这样的布局问题就容易解决了。我们注意到，对灵活性的重视程度正在提高，因为教育模式需要它。
M: Clients also emphasize the flexibility like in a laboratory, in a research space or in an office where they may expect changes in every few months. So do you think that architecture design can support the teaching and learning process?
B: Yes, it has to. I mean this is what architecture is really about. In the last few decades, architecture has become very “iconic”. It has sometimes become an image for the sake of the image. If you look at what Perkins+Will has designed, if you go back to 1935, we started in school. We were one of the first firms to develop a dedicated healthcare practice. We have a dedicated laboratory practice. These are buildings are driven by function, by the purpose of the building. And I think any architecture has to be driven by the purpose of the building. So yes. I think for us when we start a project, it’s not just about creating an image, or creating a mass, or creating some iconic sculpture. It’s about understanding the way that school or that hospital or that laboratory wants to work, and then help that client understand what the future trends are and try to develop a building that first works as a school, whatever its purpose is, is futureproof so it can adapt to, within the reason, whatever the future may bring, and then become a significant piece of architecture. Architecture without function is really just sculpture.
When you get to architecture about institutional, about lifestyle, about education, it has to be about function first. It is the architect’s job to turn – to transform that function into something that fits the environment, fits the location, creates an image for the institution you are designing for – in healthcare, it connotes wellbeing, in education it connotes friendly atmosphere of student activities, student interaction, a sense of security, a sense of learning.
M: What services does Perkins+Will has been focusing on, like planning, design, construction, architecture, interiors?
B: Everything but not construction. We do not construct, but we can document for construction. Yes. Within our practice areas of education – let’s talk about that – we have people that are planners of education. They can define the spaces needed. They can work with the client. They can lay out the spaces. They can look at different arrangements. They can understand the relationships between the administrative and the classroom or what types of libraries there are. And they understand trends in education or healthcare. Architects, most of our architects, have worked on these building types so they understand these relationships. It is an important relationship between the planner, the architectural designer and the interior designer, and we provide all of that. We have project manager and director that direct the whole thing.
With interiors of spaces, when you get the plan is done and when you think about the mass of the building and the architecture, the interiors then becomes a very important part. Because it starts establishing the ambience of the project, the feel of the project. This is where understanding materials as we have talked about, avoiding the dangerous materials coming to contact with people. They have to be aware of this. But color and material play a big part of establishing a feel for that project. They establish what it’s like. If you went to school with very red interiors, you wouldn’t feel like you are going to a school.
除了施工以外的这些服务都有。我们不做施工，但可以做施工阶段配合工作。没错，在我们的教育实践领域里 — 以此为例 — 我们拥有教育规划师。他们有能力界定空间需求。他们有能力与业主方沟通合作。他们有能力布局各种空间。他们有能力考量不同的布置方式。他们懂得行政和教室之间的关系，或是清楚图书馆都有哪些类型。他们还懂得教育或医疗领域的发展趋势。我们多数的建筑师都在这些类型的建筑项目上工作过，懂得其中需要处理的各种联系。规划师、建筑师和室内设计师之间的工作联系是十分重要的，而这些都包含在我们的服务范围内。我们还拥有项目经理和管理整个项目运作的项目总监等专业人员。
M: For that part, most of the training centers, or some western institutions like Harvard as you mentioned from US, when they come to China and they don’t build a campus or a building. Instead, they rent a kind of office in a CBD or somewhere else. Has Perkins+Will done projects of such kind in China? Is it part of your business here?
B: We’ve done that. I mean, there is no single type of university, even in Chicago or in New York, you have universities that rent spaces in office buildings like you just talked about. What our job is to take whatever space they decided to use. For example, if the University of Chicago wants to come here and set up a business school, we help them as best as we can. The educational planner, the interior designer will work with them. Obviously, you can’t come into a space like this and set up research laboratories. It really depends on what they are trying to do. You can set up small classrooms in a space like this.
M: Do you think it’s a trend for such kind of global business schools to come to china to expand their presence?
B: It depends on how big they want to be and how they want to tap into the market. I think the real question is not for the university; it is for the students going there and what they want. Like everything else, it’s very market sensitive. If the University of Chicago, if Harvard, if Stanford, whoever, they decide to come here, they have to come here as a business for selling education. They have to create a space that allows them to sell education. If this does not work, students won’t come here. So there is a high level of design but there is also a base business model that these schools have to function under. Even state schools, public schools have to, at some point, hit some criteria. There is always some measurements whether it’s the market or standards the schools set.
M: So do you know any Chicago business school that has already come to China?
B: I know they are in Singapore; I am not sure if they are in China yet. I know that many universities are looking for affiliations in Asia. What is happening is there is a developing middle-class in Asia, and as middle-class develops, as economies grow and improve, there is a growing emphasis on the social infrastructure – to be localized – whether it’s healthcare or education. You don’t want to send your kids to the State’s any more. This is becoming an opportunity for international, US, Western, European universities – to come here and create an affiliation with a local university. We have seen this with Duke University in Singapore, the University of Chicago business school, Liverpool Xi’an. We helped develop two projects in Middle East in Doha – one was a Weill Cornell Medical school, which is a pure medical school located in Doha and the other one is the Academic Bridge Program Building. Both are on the Education City campus. I think there is a market. We see a lot of universities trying to figure out whom to associate with and how to do it. We are trying to help.
据我所知，他们在新加坡有分支机构，但不清楚在中国是否也有。不过我知道很多大学教育机构都在亚洲寻求附属机构。亚洲的中产阶级人群正在崛起，随着中产阶级的发展，经济的增长和提升，对社会基础设施的关注度也在不断增加 — 这些都将趋于本地化 — 无论是医疗，还是教育。人们不再将孩子送到美国深造，而对于国际型大学、美国的、欧洲或其他西方的大学机构而言正在成为一个发展机遇 —— 来到这里，与本地大学联合创建联合机构。这方面的例子包括新加坡的杜克大学、芝加哥大学商学院、西交利物浦大学等等。我们在中东的多哈帮助发展过两个项目 —— 其中一个是威尔康奈尔医学院，是位于多哈的纯医科学校；另一个是“学术桥”预备课程的建筑项目。这两个项目都是在教育城园区里。我觉得这方面是有市场的。我们看到很多大学正在考虑与哪方联合办学和如何操作等问题。我们也正在竭尽所能地去提供帮助。
M: We’ve noticed that Shanghai already has international universities, for example, the Shanghai New York University.
B: Certain Universities in the US have more global view than the others and are looking for other markets to tap into.
These tend to be universities that have long and significant relationships with foreign students in their programs. So now they are asking, “if they come here, why can’t we go there?”
Going back to take your first question, if there was a difference between Chinese and Western, this is where they are morphing together. Because the curriculum and teaching styles aren’t as really as culture-based as they were in the past. It is not so much about the liberal arts, which is very culture centric. Business, engineering, medicine, which has less local nuances, are really becoming more of a global education platform.