Message from the Director
My warmest congratulations to all 52 graduates of the Master of Architecture Class of 2017. Yours is the 21st class of graduates from our MArch professional degree programme at CUHK. The past academic year has been momentous, as we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of our School of Architecture under the theme of Imagine. Innovate. Impact.
These three words – Imagine, Innovate, Impact – describe a transition that you will experience from being architectural students to becoming professional architects. Over the past several years, you tested the limits of your imagination in order to design innovative projects in studio, culminating in the year-long capstone thesis research and design project.
During this process up until now, you have been designing primarily for yourselves to develop your design skills and capabilities. Soon, you will be professionals in practice, designing for others – your firms, your clients and your communities. This is where impact enters the discussion. As I have noted previously, if you design only for yourself, you might call yourself an artist. But, when you design for others – serving the needs of society with your design work – then you are becoming an architect.
Thus, your thesis projects might not be completely over quite yet! Because the thesis is not just the capstone of your formal architectural education, but also the first stage of your own platform of critical thinking and continuous discovery as both a person and professional. Of professional, we are reminded that the root of this word is “profess”, as in confessing one’s faith in or allegiance to, say, a religion or set of beliefs. It is this faithful set of beliefs that truly defines a professional – whether doctor, lawyer or architect – even more than your skills, technique or experience. As future architects, what will you profess? What will you strongly believe in and defend?
Because if you do not stand for something, you can fall for anything. And, you will encounter many challenges in your future career – from developers, contractors, government officials and others, that may compromise or cause conflict with your work and your values. How will you respond? Will you be able to do so with innovative solutions that are both competent and creative, both pragmatic and poetic, with positive social impact?
As future architects, you will have opportunities to be the change you want to see in the world. I hope you will accomplish this by working with passion and purpose as well as humility and a commitment to continue learning while being guided by the core competence, critical thinking and creativity gained during your education at CUHK. Imagine. Innovate. Impact.
Best wishes, and may God bless you all.
Prof. Nelson Chen, FAIA FRIBA FHKIA
Professor of Practice in Architecture
Director, School of Architecture
The Chinese University of Hong Kong