Razing of Historic House Stirs Outrage in Beijing

In a cruel twist, a historic house associated with Chinese architects who championed the notion that 'a great nation should hold dear its historic patrimony', and deemed by authorities an 'immovable cultural relic,' was recently demolished.
February 6, 2012, 6am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In a city that seemed largely immune to the rapid rate at which entire historic neighborhoods have been raised to make room for Beijing's building frenzy, the recent demolition of a building that in the 1930s housed two of China's most fabled architectural historians struck a nerve far outside preservationist circles. The house, which was once home to Ivy League-educated architects Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin, was located in the Dongcheng district neighborhood of Beijing.

According to reporter Andrew Jacobs, "In a flurry of articles and editorials last week, the national news media denounced the demolition as a wanton violation of the country's laws and an affront to Chinese history."

"Even if distraught by the loss of a house he had tried so hard to save, He Shuzhong, one of the city's best-known preservation advocates, said he had found some solace in the unusually vociferous public uproar. The outrage, he said, was tied not only to the realization that Beijing had lost too much of its past, but also to a sense that the city's frenetic pursuit of modernization and material excess had left many citizens feeling adrift."

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Published on Friday, February 3, 2012 in The New York Times
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