Building Bridges: 37 Years of Friendship with Tianjin University

July 10, 2020

In 1980, Mr. Jing Qimin from Tianjin University’s School of Architecture visited the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture for the first time. Unbeknownst to Qimin, it was the first step in what would become a lasting friendship between the two schools.

A photograph of Tianjin University’s School of Architecture.

During Qimin’s trip he was hosted by Ralph Rapson, then head of UMN’s School of Architecture. Rapson introduced him to American architects, took him to notable sites, and began what would become a lifelong friendship between the two men.

At the end of his visit, Qimin was made a UMN School of Architecture Distinguished Scholar. The certificate he was awarded declared the Qimin had “become a vital link in the everlasting bridge of friendship between the people of the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”

Since then, there has been a continuous exchange of scholars and ideas between the two universities. This October, Tianjin University School of Architecture will celebrate its 80th anniversary. In a fitting tribute to the two schools’ ongoing relationship, Marc Swackhamer, head of the UMN School of Architecture, will deliver the keynote.