Originally from Los Angeles, James Shen received his M. Arch from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BSc in Product Design from California State University, Long Beach. He is a Visiting Lecturer at MIT and Harvard Loeb Fellow.
In 2010, James co-founded Beijing-based People's Architecture Office, a multi-disciplinary studio focused on social impact through design. People’s Architecture Office is the first architecture practice in Asia certified as a B-Corporation and serves as a model for social entrepreneurship.
The office of PAO is located in a traditional courtyard house in Beijing’s historic core, a setting characterized by urban informality, and one that inspires the studio’s work. PAO engages in urban issues through designs that straddle architecture and product design. The Courtyard House Plugin is a prefab system for urban regeneration that quickly and efficiently upgrades dilapidated homes without demolition or relocating inhabitants. The recently completed People’s Station is a cultural center that incorporates mobile parts that expand and detach in order to bring cultural activities to surrounding communities.
The studio’s award-winning works have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Harvard Graduate School of Design and the London Design Museum.