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US architect marks 30 years

THE name John Portman may not ring a bell to many Shanghai people, but the Portman hotel and the Shanghai Centre are household names.

Architect and artist Portman founded in 1953 the US firm that built the hotel and center, Shanghai's Tomorrow Square and Beijing's Yintai Center, among other buildings.

An exhibition of Portman's architectural projects and a collection of his furniture paintings and sculptures is underway at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center through September 19.

Most of his personal items have never been publicly displayed before by Atlanta-based Portman, now in his 80s.

The Shanghai Centre was his first project in China.

"Portman has not only radically altered the skyline of his home in Atlanta, but cities throughout the world," says Jeffrey Grove, curator of the exhibition. "His reconsideration of how architecture should function and the experience it should offer visitors completely changed the industry."

Portman, founder of Portman Holdings, was one of the first American architects invited to China by then Vice Premiere Deng Xiaoping when China opened its doors to the West.

His firm was one of the earliest to enter China and changed the skyline in Shanghai and other cities.

"I am honored to have my exhibit showcased here," says Portman. "I have great respect for and gratitude to China, and I am proud to have worked in this country since 1980.

"I truly hope the people of Shanghai enjoy this exhibition," he says.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Portman's business in China. Shanghai has been chosen as the first China stop after the exhibition's inauguration at Atlanta's High Museum of Art in 2009.

In May the Shanghai Centre, Shanghai's Tomorrow Square and Beijing Yintai Center were recognized by the Architectural Society of China as "the most creative designs of the last 50 years."

Date: through September 19 (closed on Mondays), 9am-4pm

Venue: Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, 100 People's Ave

Admission: 30 yuan

Tel: 6318-4477


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