The Center for Asian Studies with the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences invite you to attend the Fifth Annual Wan-Lin Kiang Lecture:

"In Search of China's Lost Bridges"
with Ronald G. Knapp,  Distinguished Professor Emeritus,  State University of New York, New Paltz
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Reception: 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
UC Irvine Student Center, Doheny Beach Room B
Lecture: 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
UC Irvine Student Center, Doheny Beach Room A

This lecture is free and open to the public. 
Please RSVP by April 29, 2008 to Sandra Cushman, or (949) 824-3344. 
About the speaker:
Ronald G. Knapp, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York, New Paltz, has been carrying out research on cultural and historical geography in China's countryside since 1965. Trained in geography and history, Dr. Knapp has done more than anyone else outside of China to celebrate, analyze, and promote understanding of the country's domestic architectural heritage.
The author or editor of 15 books, his two 2005 books -- Chinese Houses: The Architectural Heritage of a Nation and  House Home Family: Living and Being Chinese -- won the Henry Glassie Award in 2007. A notable strength of Dr. Knapp's body of works is his comprehensive approach to the study of housing. His books examine scales from that of interior dicor to the layout of villages. He considers the role of feng shui in the placement of furnishings and provides extensive discussion of construction techniques and materials. Floor plans, diagrams that illustrate social use of space, village layouts, and historical drawings and photographs compliment his texts.
His latest book, Chinese Bridges: Living Architecture from China's Past, (released in April 2008), brings together a thorough look at the country's bridges, the least known and understood of China's many wonders. This book serves as a foundation for Dr. Knapp's lecture as he will share information concerning the common and distinctive architectural elements shared among Chinese ancient bridges. In addition, he will introduce China's extraordinary collection of covered bridges, most of which were not known until recent years.

About the center:

Comprised of more than 40 interdisciplinary UC Irvine faculty members who study China, Japan, Korea, India, and Southeast Asia, the Center for Asian Studies enhances the study of the many countries and cultures of Asia.  The center provides a forum for discussions across geographic and disciplinary boundaries both on campus and within the community.

About Dr. Kiang:  

Dr. Kiang graduated from National Taiwan University with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. He went on to earn a master’s from New York University and his doctorate in systems sciences from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Kiang was a member of the American Economic Association, Association of International Business, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 1991, he was elected as international counselor and senior member of the prestigious Conference Board.  Dr. Kiang taught for many years at California State University’s School of Business Administration in Long Beach. He was also director of management sciences atNational Chiao-Tung University in Taiwan and founder of Taiwan’s Academy of Management Sciences. Among many of his appointments, he served as advisor to the Commission of National Enterprises, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan Power Corp., and RSEA.  In 1983, at the request of the acting governor of the Central Bank and chair of the Economic Development Council, Dr. Kiang returned to Taiwan and was appointed president and CEO of the China Development Corporation (CDC), Taiwan’s premier industrial development bank. On the verge of collapse, Dr. Kiang orchestrated CDC’s complete recovery, and in 1993, Euromoney elected CDC as the “Best Financial Institution in Taiwan.” In 1984, Dr. Kiang served as chairman of China Security Investment Trust Corporation, China Venture Management, Inc., and China Venture Capital Association, among over forty other public companies and organizations.   He wrote and published on technical, economic, managerial, financial, and banking matters, including two books in Chinese, Industrial Innovation and Vision and Development.  In 1993, Dr. Kiang shifted his work to China and was appointed as an advisory professor of Shanghai Chiao-Tung University and Zhejiang University. He was also a visiting professor of management at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In February 1994, he joined Emerging Markets Corporation as a senior executive in charge of Asian operations, responsible for providing guidance over the AIG Asian Infrastructure Fund – a billion dollar direct investment fund for China and ASEAN countries based in Hong Kong. He formed Sino-Century Capital and Development LTD in 1999 which now has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xiain and Taipei.

Event Report

China is a country rich in cultural traditions, its origins dating back some 3,500 years to the world's earliest civilization. On Tuesday, May 6, Ronald Knapp, distinguished professor emeritus at the State University of New York, shared his research on some of the country's oldest architectural wonders in his lecture on China's "lost bridges."

For the past 40+ years, Knapp has performed extensive research on the country's cultural and historical geography.  Until the 18th century, he explained to the UCI audience, China's rainbow bridges - those with an arch in the middle - were believed to have been constructed only of stone.  Research and photographs which emerged during the 1900s, however, proved otherwise. 

His latest work focuses on the structural elements of these somewhat newly documented timber arch covered bridges which are made entirely of wood. 

Having visited many of these "astonishing" bridges, Knapp described the sites as "magical" as many exist in extremely remote areas accessible only by small paths as old as the bridges themselves. 

While the exact number is unknown, he explained that one researcher in the 1950s figured the number of Chinese timber arch bridges to be less than 1,050.  Chinese officials today, however, boast that the country holds more than 3,000 such structures, although many are in various states of disrepair. 

In addition to studying their architectural make-up, Knapp is also interested in the stories behind each bridge and the social communities that constructed them. 

"The bridges served - and some still do today - as temples and community centers," he said as he flipped through photos, some of elaborate two-story covered bridges with ornate temples housed inside, others seemingly more simple.  Throughout history, he went on to explain, they also served as primary pathways for commerce and gathering places for local communities. 

"Bridges are often overlooked because they are underfoot and inconspicuous," he said.  Each one, however, has a unique story to tell and he hopes to inspire an interest in the "historical research that has yet to be done." 

Knapp's research is documented in his latest book, Chinese Bridges: Living Architecture from China's Past, which was available for purchase and signing at Tuesday's lecture. 

Knapp's was the fifth talk in the annual Wan-Lin Kiang lecture series sponsored by the School of Social Sciences' and School of Humanities' Center for Asian Studies.  The series honors Mr. Wan-Lin Kiang, a successful engineer and international businessman.



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