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                               Special Report on the



Kenneth Wang School of Law
Soochow University, Suzhou, China
Donated by Wang Family Foundation
in honor of their father and Soochow's
100th Anniversary | Architect: P. H. Tuan





                                        Creating Bridges Across Cultures






Front of Administrative
Building of Wang Law.
Logo photo above is front
of Academic Building.
Buildings are connected
by two bridges in keeping
with 'creating bridges
across cultures'.





Wang School of Law





Wang Law curved bridge








Charles Wang with Kimmie Chin, Zine Multimedia Editor and CASB President, at opening of Wang Center, 22 Oct 02.  Photo taken by Kevin Quan.


Charles Wang 
with Kimmie Chin at Wang Center Opening 




PH Tuan, Architect, in main lobby overlooking sculpture gallery between theatre and lecture halls of Wang Center, SBU.  022004D4150JMY


P.H. Tuan, Architect
in Wang Center, SBU




Special thanks for new
 Wang Law photos to
Weichun Li
Soochow instructor
who took them for
Gary Wu



Gary Wu on ski trip to
White Face Mountain amid
a rarity in Suzhou - snow.



All SBU alumni. Gary, center, with FalconStor VP of Engineering Wai Lam




Anyone with photos of
Wang Law please send to
Directions in last album, Visitors Add Photos Here.







Wang Center Special
with 3D Virtual Tour




Wang Center
SBU Site with
Current Cultural Events




WangLawLogoRock.jpg (112647 bytes)


Wang Law in Chinese


Wang Law in English




Pacific/McGeorge Law Summer Program
with Wang Law




The Kenneth Wang School of Law at Soochow University: Rebuilding a Bridge
by Prof. Francis Wang




 Soochow University


SoochowClockTower.jpg (550641 bytes)


Clock Tower
Oldest Building




Soochow in English




Soochow in Chinese




Stony Brook University




Suzhou-djharchdotcom.jpg (288771 bytes)


Long Island


MontaukLighthouseRobertMuller111499b.jpg (237410 bytes)


A Pronunciation Lesson: Soochow and Suzhou... Lawnguyuhland


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by Ja Young, [AA]2
Board of Directors
Alumni Advisor,
SBU AA E-Zine 



    Wang Center at Stony Brook University    

     Charles Wang, owner of the New York Islanders national hockey team, founder of Computer Associates, real estate tycoon, and Long Island's largest philanthropist, donated the funds to build the Charles B. Wang Center Celebrating Asian and Asian American Cultures at Stony Brook University.  Its purpose is to be a bridge between Asians, Americans, and Asian Americans.
     In a meeting at the University in July 1996 Wang said, "I want my building to be so exciting that everyone will want to go there.  I want it to be a place where people will learn something about Asia just by being in it."  
     P. H. Tuan was the architect for the 100,000 plus square foot Center who turned Wang's words into reality.  A stunningly exquisite design it is now the preferred venue for University events.  Tuan intentionally made the main entrance a bridge to metaphorically symbolize leaving the West to enter the East.
     Creating an atmosphere where Asian international students would find 'a home away from home' was a Center goal.  One Chinese American student walking through before it opened danced in circles reminiscing of how it reminded her of Shanghai. A Japanese student now in architecture school described the 3 story white window walls as traditional shoji.  The 100 foot pagoda tower and theatre windows are eight sided like the I Ching's bagua, bamboo gardens are indoors and out and in them are traditional Lake Taihu rocks.  
     Yet though the building contains architectural and natural elements of Asia, its modern design could never be called traditional.  The Wang Center opened on 22 Oct 2002 and there are links on the left with everything from a virtual 3D tour to current cultural events. 

    Wang School of Law at Soochow: Architectural Bridge    

     In late 1999 Wang, older brother Anthony, and younger brother Francis decided to donate a new law school to Soochow University in honor of their father and in celebration of Soochow's 100th anniversary.  Kenneth Wang is a 1938 Soochow Law School alumnus and former faculty member.  Charles Wang made the official announcement during a visit to Soochow in 2000 as part of the anniversary celebrations.
     Renamed the Kenneth Wang School of Law, it was also designed by architect P. H. Tuan.  The Wang School of Law is now the most modern and advanced law school in all of China.  And it too is meant to be a bridge - both architecturally and academically. About the same size as the Wang Center, it opened on 9 Nov 2003.
     To protect a grove of old trees, Wang Law is two buildings, one administrative, one academic, connected by two bridges.  The straight bridge, a truss high in the air, gives uninterrupted viewing to the grove.  The curved bridge opposite it is just as high but with traditional Chinese column elements in a modern design.
     Distinctly Chinese modern architecture is what Tuan wanted to achieve.  Although Western trained himself, he began the Institute for the Advancement of Contemporary Chinese Architecture because he was disappointed in his travels to find that Chinese architects were simply copying Western styles. 
     As bold and modern as Wang Law is, it still has a distinctive Chinese character.  It is a perfect example of what Tuan wants modern Chinese architects to create with their own designs - uniquely Chinese contemporary architecture.
On the left are links to a photo gallery of Wang Law with brief architectural descriptions, and the Wang School of Law official sites (in English and Chinese).  

    Wang School of Law at Soochow: Legal Bridge    

     In addition to Wang Law's architectural bridges, it is also trying to rebuild legal bridges.  When Soochow Law began it soon became the most prominent law school of its time.  Some early faculty were brilliant theorists who firmly believed in the comparative study of law.  Prior to 1949 courses were taught in English, French, German and Chinese and students studied common law and case law.  As a consequence, graduates of Soochow before 1949 had a well developed view of legal issues from all perspectives.
     Kenneth Wang got that well developed training.  He went on to become a member of the Shanghai Court of Appeals and President of Aurora College for Women (a division of Aurora University, the first Catholic university in China) before coming to the US where his broad knowledge enabled him to teach at St. John's School of Law.
     What is missing now - on both sides of the Pacific - is that similar comparative understanding.  Americans talk about "the rule of law" thinking of it in terms of Anglo American common law without understanding it means something different in a country with a civil law approach.  (In the U.S. cases work their way up to the Supreme Court.  In China the lower courts decide on cases but not on laws - those come from above.)  A bottom up approach versus a top down one.  
     As our global world becomes more intertwined, all lawyers need that comparative education.  This summer, the Kenneth Wang School of Law and the Pacific / McGeorge School of Law will be doing just that, in a special course taught by Kenneth Wang's son, Prof. Francis S. L. Wang.
     Chinese and American law students will take the course together, working in competing teams (not nation vs nation but combinations of each) to develop not only legal skills in transnational cases, but perhaps more importantly, learning the skills "necessary to work with their counterparts from different countries, cultures, and legal systems."      
On the left are links to the Pacific / McGeorge course being taught at Wang Law and a recent paper by Prof. Francis Wang for an Association of American Law Schools Conference.  Most of the above history came from that paper.  Prof. Wang is a partner in Wang & Wang, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Pacific / McGeorge, and Senior Counsel of the U.C. Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center.

    Sister Universities - The Similarities...    

     Because of many similarities between Soochow and Stony Brook, someday it would be wonderful if they became 'sister schools' - doing what is happening with Wang Law and Pacific / McGeorge Law but on wider scale.  Both are in what are considered 'University towns' where academic excellence begins in pre-school.  They are each about one hours train ride away from their countries most important cities - Shanghai and New York City.  The each even have a divided campus - Stony Brook by Nichols Road and Soochow by Grand Canal.  
     And they both have a large Wang donated building built by the same architect!  Although radically different in style, each Tuan designed building would give visitors from each campus a sense of familiarity. Though the School is a much bolder design there are some striking similarities just in the exterior alone - the gray brick patterned walls, curved rooms, and dramatic entrances with a row of high small square windows across the front.
     Although on different continents, visitors from each campus could have that same 'home away from home' feeling that the Wang Center at Stony Brook gives to many Asian international students through its modernistic interpretation of traditional Asian architectural elements.




...and the Differences Are Advantages


     Stony Brook, with 22,000 students, is considered a major research university in a small, quaint, historical suburban American town, though keep in mind that historical in American terms is only a few hundred years.  Many wish it had a law school but its strongest areas are science and engineering.  
    It is a young university, begun in 1957, now one of the four centers in the State University of New York (SUNY) 64 campus system.  It is the home of the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP), founded by the first Nobel laureate born in China, C. N. Yang, now Professor Emeritus.
     Sixty miles from Manhattan, Stony Brook is as equidistant to Long Island's north fork of wine country and south fork of glorious white sand Atlantic beaches as to NYC.  In Stony Brook, urban is something residents visit, not what they live.  
     Soochow is a much larger university which enables it to have both a larger liberal humanities focus as well as sciences and engineering, and it is situated in one of the most beautiful ancient cities of China.  Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, is on the UN list of 100 most important heritage sites and has been in continuous use since its founding in 514 B.C. as the capital of the Wu State.  
     Its older center is filled with luscious gardens and canals and known as the Venice of the East, though given their ages, Venice should be the Suzhou of the West.  When one thinks 'Chinese garden' that literally means Suzhou.  Its oldest existing garden was built in 1044 A.D.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art Chinese garden, Astor Court, is a replica of Suzhou's Garden of the Master of the Nets, a 12th century Ming garden.  An even better example is the Chinese Scholar's Garden at the Staten Island Botanical Garden. It is one of only three (two public, one private) authentic classical Chinese gardens in America. It was designed and took a year to build by Suzhou gardeners. There is an article on the Long Island link on the left.
     With over 100 years of history, Soochow University was one of the first universities in China to grant master's and Ph.D. degrees. Today it has 39,000 students and is one of the largest comprehensive universities among provincial higher education institutions in China.  In China it is informally known as Su Da from the first characters of each word in Chinese just as Stony Brook is often called SBU or SUNYSB.
     Because of its University facilities and talented community, ancient Suzhou is now surrounded on two sides by major modern technology business areas.  In 2001 Newsweek singled out Suzhou, located about 40 miles from
Shanghai, as one of nine emerging high-tech cities in the world.  The ancient city of gardens and canals now manufactures 10% of China's IT products.  But it is also one of the most environmentally conscious cities in China.  No buildings are allowed to be over 7 stories high in the old city and within a few years it may become a model of sustaining massive growth and staying 'green'.     
      Students coming to either institution would have the opportunity to be involved in state of the art universities while experiencing completely different lifestyles.  On the left are links to Soochow University (in Chinese and English), Stony Brook University, the Long Island r
egion, and Suzhou.

    Gary Wu and the Now Traveled Bridge    

     While fewer Americans go to China to study because they do not know Chinese, Chinese language learning is far more advanced and most students there begin to learn English in kindergarten as their second or third language.  For the past four years students at Soochow, because of the Wang School of Law and consequently learning about Charles Wang and the Wang Center, know about Stony Brook and see it as a good place for graduate work. 
One such student is Gary (Gang) Wu.  While talking to the architect P.H. Tuan in Stony Brook, they realized they had each been in the same room in Soochow when Charles Wang made the announcement that he and his brothers were building the Kenneth Wang School of Law.  Their meeting a continent away is symbolic of how interconnected the world has become - the bridge that Wang wanted to create is already being traveled.
      As a computer science grad student, not a law student, we were curious as to why Gary had gone to hear Wang speak.  
     "At that time he was the CEO of Computer Associates", said Gary, "one of the most important software companies in the world.  As a CS major I was very interested to learn his career story.  Everyone wanted to see Wang because he is the most famous person in software to have visited Soochow University." 
     Gary will now be working on the Wang Center project designing a new section of it to teach Americans about Suzhou to help connect travelers in both directions, and an architectural section about the Wang School of Law. 


     We hope these new bridges will soon become well traveled ones.  Then the promise of bringing people together made with each one will have been kept.


     Although it would seem this article was to talk about the two Wang buildings and the bicultural as well as architectural bridges they represent, it was only after the photo gallery was complete and most of it written that we learned that the Wang School had its own cross cultural bridge it was trying to rebuild just as the Wang Center had one it was initiating.  It made a very welcome enhancement to the story.  But it did more than that... it created a renewal of faith.
Here is why...











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             This page was created for publication on 9 June 04.  Last updated 9 June 04.