China Field Seminar

SAH Field Seminar to China
December 26, 2017 - January 7, 2018

See Pricing Below
Capacity: 30
Fellowship Deadline: August 31, 2017

This SAH Field Seminar has reached capacity. Thank you.

Suzhou-GardenDecember is the perfect time to go to China when the trip is south of the Yangtze River. Travel in the warmth and sun of South China from Shanghai to China’s greatest beauty spots and gardens (Suzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Ningbo), the great capital Nanjing, the commercial seaport Guangzhou (Canton) and off-the-beaten-track Huizhou and Guiyang, with long-time SAH member and Chinese architectural historian Nancy Steinhardt. This twelve-day trip will offer an in-depth view of South China’s cities, buildings, and sites through the course of two millennia. In addition to the buildings and museums on every tourist itinerary, we will visit UNESCO and World Heritage sites, a second-century BCE tomb, a glass pagoda, churches, a mosque, a rare example of “beamless” construction, memorials to Sun Yat-sen, sixteenth-century merchant residences, nineteenth-century European residences, and a Dong drum tower, and we will meet practicing architect-architectural historians. Steinhardt will lecture throughout the Field Seminar.


This SAH Field Seminar itinerary features the major sites within each city as well as many places that would almost never be included on a standard tour, such as the Twin Pagodas and Ruiguang Pagoda in Suzhou, Pearl Buck's house in Zhenjiang, Han tombs in Yangzhou, the Pearl Buck house and Yan Tingbao architecture in Nanjing, Six Dynasties Museum in Nanjing, Southern Tang tombs and St. Joseph's Cathedral in Nanjing, residential architecture of Huizhou, Hu Xueyuan House and Silk Museum in Hangzhou, Baoguo Monastery in Ningbo, sites in Guizhou, Nanyue King tomb in Guangzhou, and Shamiam Island. All accommodations are at 4-star hotels.

DAY 1      Dec 26       Tuesday                 depart USA or other home location         

Fly non-stop across the North Pacific and the International Dateline to Shanghai, the metropolitan economic center of China.

DAY 2      Dec 27       Wednesday           arrive SHANGHAI                                             (D)

Shanghai-BundArrive in Shanghai's Pudong International Airport by any of several flights at approximately 4 PM. After clearing entry procedures, luggage claim and customs, be met and take the magnetic levitation train [Mag-Lev]. The Mag-Lev train is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world. Construction started in 2001 and operations began in 2004.  Operational speed of this train is 431 km/h (268 mph), making it the world's fastest train in regular commercial service. The distance from the airport to the terminus is about 35 km and the trip takes approximately seven minutes. Continue by coach to the historic Astor House Hotel. The hotel was originally built in 1846 and subsequently added to in 1858 and 1907. It was the first hotel in China to have electricity; the first hotel in Asia to be air cooled and it had the first telephone in China. Renovated to it’s original Baroque and Neoclassical Victorian architectural style in 2004, its decor memorializes famous past guests including: Ulysses S. Grant, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin. In 1990 the ballroom was used for Shanghai’s first stock exchange since 1949. After check-in have dinner at a local restaurant and take a local walking night tour on the Bund.

DAY 3      Dec 28       Thursday               SHANGHAI                                                        (B, L, D)

ShanghaiJewishQuarterTake a walking tour along the historic Bund, (riverfront). There are at least 52 buildings from the 19th and early 20th century that represent the iconic architecture of banking and trade in Shanghai of that time period. Many are Art Deco as well as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Beaux-Arts styles. These include Sassoon House, The Customs House, The HSBC Building, Great Northern Telegraph Building and The Shanghai Club. From the Bund, the skyline of modern Shanghai dominates the other side of the river. Continue by taking the ferry from the Jinling Road Wharf across the river to Lujiazui, the current financial center of Shanghai. Visit 100th floor observatory of the Shanghai World Financial Center, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and completed in 2008. It is a mixed-use building with offices, a hotel, conference rooms, observation decks, and shopping malls. Park Hyatt Shanghai is the tower's hotel using the 79th to the 93rd floor. At the time it opened it was the 8th tallest building in the world. Also see the Jin Mao Tower, designed by SOM and completed in 1999. After lunch visit the Shanghai Museum, opened in 1996 with a design by by local architect Xing Tonghe. Later tour the Jewish Quarter including the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, now a museum. Have dinner and return to the hotel.

DAY 4      Dec 29       Friday                    SHANGHAI/SUZHOU                                      (B, L, D)

I-M-Pei-Suzhou-MuseumAfter breakfast check-out of the hotel and drive to the water town of Zhujiajiao. See traditional canal and courtyard houses.  There are over 30 small bridges built of stone, wood and marble dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There is also the dramatic Qingpu Pedestrian Bridge, designed by the CA-Group, competed in 2008. Continue by coach to Suzhou. Stay off an old-town alleyway at the Pingjiang Lodge, a traditional Chinese-style hotel converted from a Ming Dynasty mansion that once belonged to the Fang family. The complex includes wooden pillars and walled garden areas. Have lunch and then tour to the new Suzhou Museum, designed by I.M. Pei and opened in 2006. Explore the adjacent Humble Administrator’s Garden and then visit The Temple of Mystery, (Xuan Miao Guan), a Taoist temple dating from 3rd century A.D., now a bazaar area with many vendors, the shrines still have interest although much of the Song Dynasty statuary was destroyed by the Red Guards and replicated in the last 30 years. Have dinner in the hotel.

DAY 5      Dec 30       Saturday                SUZHOU/NANJING                                          (B, L)

Start the day with a visit to Luohanyuan Temple to see the Twin Pagodas, built in the Song Dynasty (in 982AD). Then stop at the Garden of the Fisherman’s Nets. Next see the Pagoda of Auspicious Light (Ruiguang), the earliest Buddhist pagoda in Suzhou. It was originally built in 240 A.D. as a 13-story tower and reconstructed in about 1120 A.D as a 7-story building. Repair in 1978 uncovered an area of stored relics which are now housed in the Suzhou Museum. Drive to Zhenjiang, a treaty-port city on the Yangste River. Have lunch and then tour to see 19th century British houses including the home of writer Pearl Buck. Continue to Nanjing and stay at the Mandarin Garden Hotel. Dinner tonight is on your own. Fuzimiao, (Confucius Temple), is a short walk from the hotel with many dining options.

DAY 6      Dec 31       Sunday                  YANGZHOU                                                      (B, L, D)

Yangzhou-2nd-c-BCE-tombDrive to Yangzhou, a city on the Grand Canal that dates from about 485 BC. Structures and museums here cover 2500 years of dynastic China. See the Museum of Han Guangling, known for pre-Buddhist Han Dynasty tombs. The modern museum buildings were built directly over 2000 year old wood tombs that are about 24 meters underground. Also stop to see the remains of the Tang Dynasty city wall including a pair of Palace Watch Towers. Have lunch featuring Yangzhou cuisine. Yangzhou was center of the salt trade and during the Yuan Dynasty it is purported that Marco Polo was appointed as a local official.  Visit the Ge Garden, a well preserved private garden which dates originally from the 14th Century before returning to Nanjing. Dinner is at a local Nanjing restaurant.

DAY 7      Jan 1          Monday                 NANJING                                                           (B, L)

Tour to the Mausoleum of Dr Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Republic of China, this complex was completed in 1929. The architect was Lu Yanzhi and its scenic location is at the base of the Purple Mountains. Nearby is Xiaoling Mausoleum, the tomb of the first Ming Dynasty Emperor, completed in 1431. Most interesting in the same area is Linggu Temple, built in the Liang Dynasty (502-557). It was constructed without any wood and is therefore known as the ‘Beamless Hall’. It was once one of the busiest Buddhist Temples with as many as 1000 monks and is still active now. Lunch is requested at Shensong House, a vegetarian restaurant located in the temple. Take a walking tour to see Pearl Buck’s house when she was on the university faculty and Yang Tingbao architecture designed buildings. Also visit the Six Dynasties Museum, designed by the Pei Partnership and opened in 2014. Dinner tonight is on your own.

DAY 8      Jan 2          Tuesday                 NANJING/TUNXI                                             (B, L, D)

10th-c-Royal-Tomb,-NanjingThis morning go to Nanjing’s southern suburbs to see the Southern Tang Tombs.  Consisting of two sites, Qinling Mausoleum was built in 943 AD and Shunling Mausoleum was built in 961 AD. Only about 50 meters apart, these were officially discovered in 1950 after ancient artifacts were discovered for sale in Nanjing’s antique markets. Most of the funerary objects from these sites were looted and never recovered but the structures were intact and have been restored under the auspices of the Nanjing Museum.  This afternoon take a train to Wuhu. Stop to see St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, established in 1883 and built by French Jesuits. Continue by coach to the Tunxi area to overnight at the Huangshan International Hotel. Dinner tonight is in the ‘Old Street’ area featuring local Anhui cuisine.

DAY 9      Jan 3          Wednesday           TUNXI/HANGZHOU                      (B, L, D)

This morning visit the Huizhou Culture Museum located near the airport in Tunxi. Then drive to Yixian and visit houses in the villages of Hongcun, Xidi and Nanping. These distinctive houses were background in the film, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA has a permanent exhibit featuring Yin Yu Tang (Hall of Plentiful Shelter), an 18th-century house from this region.  Drive to Hangzhou and check-in to the Wuyang Holiday Hotel.

DAY 10    Jan 4          Thursday               HANGZHOU                                                      (B, L, D)

west_lake__hangzhouTour this morning to the Hu Xueyan House. Hu Xueyan, (1823-1885), was a local celebrity in Hangzhou during the late Qing dynasty. His residence was initially constructed over 3 years starting in 1872. The architectural style features an example of the magnificent residences of the late Qing Dynasty. It is hidden behind white walls in the heart of a modern city with a population of over 21 million. Hangzhou’s traditional center is West Lake. Drive past the lake and visit the China National Silk Museum before taking a day trip to Ningbo, one of China's oldest cities, with a history dating to the Hemudu culture in 4800 BC. Visit the Tianyi Pavilion, the oldest existing library in China. Founded in 1561 during the Ming dynasty. At one time it had a collection of 70,000 volumes of antique books, some dating from the 11th century. Also tour Baoguo Temple, a Mahayana Buddhist temple, is the oldest intact wooden structure in eastern China. It was founded before 880 A.D and the intact main hall dates back to 1013 A.D. Originally built in the year AD 975, its wood components were burned by Japanese pirates in the Ming Dynasty and the current 5-story, octagonal tower was rebuilt in 1924. Return to modern China with a tour the Hangzhou International Conference Center, completed in 2008 from plans by Master Architect Xia Bangjie and GS (Garden State) Design Co., Ltd. This hall hosted the G20 Economic Summit in September 2016.

DAY 11    Jan 5          Friday                    HANGZHOU/GUIYANG                                 (B, L, D)

This morning fly to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province. Have lunch and then drive to the Qingyan Ancient Town. This town was originally built in 1378 when the Ming Dynasty expanded to the more remote areas of China. It was built for military reasons. Because of its geographical location, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty established it as a station for transferring military messages and to house a standing army. As a separate enclave from the many minority nationalities in Quizhou, its architecture, local dialect and traditions are distinctly related to the Ming period. The geology of the area resulted in buildings made of stone with an inner and outer walled town. Religious culture here is rich, including Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Christianity. Visit sites including Ciyun Temple, the wood sculptures of Shoufo Temple a Heritage Museum and Batik Art Galleries. Mixed among the many stone structures are many 2 story wood houses unique to Southwest China. Return to Guiyang and stay at the Novotel Hotel.

DAY 12    Jan 6          Saturday                GUIYANG/GUANGZHOU                              (B, L, D)

This morning visit Jiaxiu Tower, also called the First Scholar's Tower. It is situated on Fuyu Bridge over the Nanming River. Then fly to Guangzhou. On arrival be met and visit the Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. This site was discovered in 1983 and dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–24AD). The museum houses an extensive collection of jade artifacts, pottery, and porcelain. The ancient tomb is a separate part of the complex which includes exhibits of the development of the culture in the area. From here visit Sacred Heart Cathedral. Designed by two French architects, it was built by Chinese labor over 25 years from 1863 to 1888. It is one of only four all-granite Gothic churches in the world. It is still very active as a Catholic center and is sometimes called the ‘Notre-Dame of the East.’ Overnight on Shamian Island at the Guangdong Victory Hotel. Shamian Island was the center of sea trade dating back to the Song Dynasty. After the 1st Opium War, it became an enclave for the International community. It features a broad example of European architecture with over 40 preserved and restored examples of Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical design. Have a farewell dinner at local restaurant.

DAY 13    Jan 7          Sunday                  GUANGZHOU/USA                                          (B)

Transfer for the morning flight to Hong Kong. Same day connections back to Europe, the United States, and other destinations are possible on most airlines. An extension stay in Hong Kong on one's own is also an option.


China, December 26 - January 7
$3750 double occupancy; $4370 single occupancy

Tour Capacity:

Registration is non-refundable. A deposit of $1500 is required at the time of registration and the balance is due by September 28, 2017. SAH membership is required to attend and may be purchased at the time of registration. 

11 breakfasts
10 lunches
9 dinners
SAH donation
Mag-Lev Train ticket
Air and shuttle transportation once in China
Entrance fees (where applicable)

Originating flight from participant's home to China
Final departing flight from China to participant's home


An SAH Study Program Fellowship is available for this SAH Field Seminar and is open to current full-time graduate students and emerging professionals. The fellowship covers the single occupancy price of the tour package and includes a travel stipend of up to $200 intended to provide underwriting for travel to and from the Field Seminar destination. Visit the Research Fellowships page for full criteria and to apply.

Application Deadline: August 31, 2017


The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) is registered with the American Institute of Architects’ Continuing Education System (AIA CES) to provide learning units for participation in various events offered by SAH. To receive the eligible number of learning units for your transcript, please provide your AIA member number when you register for this program. At the conclusion of the program, SAH will report your earned learning units to AIA and will notify you to review your transcript to ensure it has been officially recorded.


SteinhardtCVPictNANCY S. STEINHARDT is Professor of East Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art at the University of Pennsylvania where she has taught since 1982. She received her PhD at Harvard in 1981 and  was a Junior Fellow at Harvard from 1978-81. Steinhardt taught at Bryn Mawr from 1981-1982. She has broad research interests in the art and architecture of China and China’s border regions, particularly problems that result from the interaction between Chinese art and that of peoples to the North, Northeast, and Northwest.

Steinhardt is author or co-editor of Chinese Traditional Architecture (1984), Chinese Imperial City Planning (1990), Liao Architecture (1997), Chinese Architecture (2003), Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture (2005), Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts (2011), Chinese Architecture in an Age of Turmoil, 200-600 (2014), The Chinese Mosque (2015), Chinese ArchitectureTwelve Lectures (2017), China: an Architectural History (under contract), and "The Borders of Chinese Architecture" (under contract) and more than 100 articles. She is a recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Getty Foundation, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Social Science Research Council, American Philosophical Society, Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts, Van Berchem Foundation, and Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art. She has given more than 300 public lectures or conference talks. Steinhardt is involved in international collaborations in China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia. She has been an advisor, guest curator, or author for exhibitions at China Institute, Asia Society, the Metropolitan Museum, Japan Society, Chicago Art Institute, Smart Museum, and the Penn Museum. 

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
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