Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Asian Architecture Today

The Asian Art Museum and California College of the Arts present lectures by leading figures shaping architecture today.

Through this collaboration, the series hosts a combination of distinguished architects from Asia as well as North American practitioners active in Asia to provide a common framework for deepening knowledge of and interest in contemporary Asian architecture.

Past Events


February 20: Buildings and Almost Buildings: nARCHITECTS

Across a range of buildings, public spaces and ephemeral installations, nARCHITECTS argues for the formal and social potential of an architecture that remains somehow incomplete and ambiguously perceived — or in the architects’ words, “almost buildings.” In this Asian Architecture Today lecture, nARCHITECTS principal Mimi Hoang asks if this state of incompletion can impel us to imagine architecture as an armature for an ever-changing daily life.
Mimi Hoang, AIA, LEED, is a co-founding partner of nARCHITECTS, and an adjunct assistant professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Along with Eric Bunge, she oversees the design and technical development of all projects in the office. Hoang received a Master of Architecture from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from M.I.T. The title of this lecture comes from the firm’s recent monograph, which is available for purchase in advance through the museum’s online store.

February 28: Architectural Behaviorology: The Work of Atelier Bow-Wow

Atelier Bow-Wow’s philosophy of architectural behaviorology sees architectural design as the relationships among different considerations on various behaviors. It observes various behaviors brought by three main actors in and around architecture: nature (light, wind, heat, humidity, etc.), the human (custom, habit) and the building (typology, building elements). Design practices based on architectural behaviorology tackle barriers between people and local resources.

Husband-and-wife team Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kajima founded the architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow in 1992. The Tokyo-based practice is renowned for its domestic, commercial and cultural architecture and for its theories, especially its work surrounding the concept of behaviorology. The firm has also championed the fourth-generation house in Tokyo and the experimental project Micro-Public-Space, which has been exhibited across the globe. The pair has published 11 books, including “Made in Tokyo,” which documents hybrid buildings situated in Tokyo’s densely built urban environment. Tsukamoto is a professor in the Graduate School of Architecture and Building Engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology.

March 14: Culturally Coded: Höweler + Yoon’s Recent Architectural Works in China

Contemporary China is experiencing a cultural transformation, making it a rich territory for creative exploration at the intersection of heritage and progress. Opportunities for multilayered, culturally coded built artifacts arise out of productive tensions between traditional techniques and typologies and new building technologies and rapid urbanization. Höweler + Yoon’s recent architectural works include Sky Courts Exhibition Hall and LuxeLakes Hotel, both in Chengdu, and the Shanghai Expo Cultural Park Bridges competition.

J. Meejin Yoon is the co-founding principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, a multidisciplinary architecture and design studio that has garnered international recognition for a range of built work. Her design work and research investigate the intersections between architecture, technology and public space. Yoon is dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Previously, she was professor and head of the Department of Architecture at MIT, where she began teaching in 2001. Yoon is the recipient of Architectural Record’s New Generation Design Leadership Award, the U.S. Artist Award in Architecture and Design and the Rome Prize in Design. She is the co-author of “Public Works: Unsolicited Small Projects for the Big Dig “and “Absence.” Yoon received a B.Arch. from Cornell University, with the AIA Henry Adams Medal, an M.A. in urban design with distinction from Harvard University and a Fulbright Fellowship to Korea.

April 11: Soft Thresholds: The Work of RMA Architects Mumbai+ Boston

Architect Rahul Mehrotra presents the work of his firm, RMA Architects, which works out of Mumbai and Boston. Mehrotra will discuss his practice, from research and exhibition installation to actual built work in India, through a range of projects: corporate office buildings, a library, conservation and a series of social advocacy initiatives including community toilets and a low-income housing project for elephants and their keepers, commonly referred to as mahouts.

Mehrotra is a practicing architect and educator. He works in Mumbai and teaches at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where he is professor of urban design and planning. His practice, RMA Architects (, founded in 1990, has executed a range of projects across India. Mehrotra has written, co-authored and edited a vast repertoire of books on Mumbai, its urban history, historic buildings, public spaces and planning processes.


Feburary 8: Design as Ecology with Kulapat Yantrasast, wHY

The Asian Architecture Today lecture series kicked off the 2018 season with Kulapat Yantrasast, founder and creative director of wHY, the firm behind the Asian Art Museum’s transformation project. In this lecture, he discussed his practice, design philosophy, collaborations with artists and a few key projects including the Ross Pavilion and Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Born in Bangkok, Thailand, where he graduated with honors from Chulalongkorn University, Kulapat Yantrasast received both his M.Arch. and Ph.D. degrees in architecture from the University of Tokyo. Upon graduating, Yantrasast worked in Japan as Tadao Ando’s close associate for more than seven years. In 2012, he was named one of the art world’s 100 Most Powerful People; in 2009, Yantrasast was the first architect to receive the Silpathorn Award for Design from Thailand’s Ministry of Culture. He is a frequent public speaker at leading institutions and organizations and has served since 2005 on the Artists’ Committee of the Americans for the Arts, the oldest organization for the support of the arts in the United States. In 2015, Yantrasast was appointed a board member of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, and he is an active member of the Design Council for Collective Design.

March 29: A Museum from a Painting with Wang Shu, Amateur Architecture Studio

Pritzker Prize–winning architect Wang Shu of Amateur Architecture Studio presents a talk about the firm’s work and its sources of inspiration, including Chinese landscape painting and traditional buildings. Amateur Architecture Studio is at the forefront of contemporary Chinese architecture and the practice is rooted in the culture and natural resources of the communities where it works. This approach is reflected in projects such as the Ningbo History Museum, the campus of the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and, most recently, the Fuyang Cultural Complex.


February 8: Mass Studies: Recent Works with Architect Minsuk Cho

Founder of Seoul-based firm Mass Studies, architect Minsuk Cho will discuss the firm’s recent work and answer audience questions. Cho spent his early career in New York and Rotterdam, and, in 1998, co-founded Cho Slade Architecture in New York. Since returning to Seoul in 2003, he has been committed to the discourse of architecture through socio-cultural and urban research and mostly built works, which have been recognized globally.

Representative works include the Pixel House, Missing Matrix: Boutique Monaco, Bundle Matrix: S-Trenue, Ann Demeulemeester Shop, Korea Pavilion: 2010 Shanghai World Expo and Daum Space.1. Cho co-curated the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale and was the commissioner and co-curator of the Korean Pavilion for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, which was awarded the Gold Lion for Best National Participation. In late 2014, PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, held their first ever architecture exhibition, highlighting his works in a solo exhibition titled Before/After: Mass Studies Does Architecture. Cho is an active lecturer and speaker at symposiums worldwide.

March 30: Billie Tsien of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners

Most recently selected to design the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, renowned architect Billie Tsien will present key projects from Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners.

Tsien began working with Tod Williams in 1977, founding their architectural practice in 1986. Located in New York, their studio focuses on work for institutions including schools, museums and nonprofits — organizations and people who value issues of aspiration and meaning, and timelessness and beauty. Their buildings are carefully made and useful in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail and, most of all, experience, are at the heart of what they build.

Over the past three decades, Tsien and Williams have received more than two dozen awards from the American Institute of Architects as well as numerous national and international citations. Most recently, they received the 2013 National Medal of the Arts from President Obama, 2013 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects and 2014 International Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Additional recognition includes the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Brunner Award, Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize, New York City AIA Medal of Honor and Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture.