Dr. LIU Yishi Lecture on the Construction of New Beijing Held on June 13th, 2017 in Beijing

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Dr. LIU Yishi Lecture on the Construction of New Beijing Held on June 13th, 2017 in Beijing

June 13, 2017

On June 13, Columbia Global Centers | Beijing invited Dr. LIU Yishi from School of Architecture, Tsinghua University to deliver a public lecture on the construction of "new Beijing" in the first decades of the P.R. China. QIAN Ying, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University, was the moderator.

"The post-1949 period is a vacant period that is under-researched," said Dr. Liu. He explained his reason to focus on Beijing’s urban transformation and architectural development around the first decade under Maoism. As pointed out by Dr. Liu, the lecture was not just about architecture and urbanism, but also about "how people perceived and used the city and the culture behind it."

Dr. Liu said after 1840, new buildings emerged with both Chinese and western elements, including catholic, embassy, and industrial buildings. However, the integration of western characteristics underwent several stages: the initial modeling, the rejection during the rise of nationalism in1920s, and the negotiation between the modernist and social realist styles during capitalist-socialist ideological conflicts.

Besides, he emphasized the influence of economic and socialist reform on the redevelopment of the city. The need to widen the street rendered its necessity to demolish or relocate certain old buildings. After the communist takeover, with the land being communally owned, it became convenient for the government to do so.

"There was great development from the pre-socialist regime to the post-socialist regime, because there was a really highly centralized state in Beijing. And the government wanted to build the city as the manifest to the world, and to showcase to the capitalist countries that we are capable of building the city as part of modernization, to bring wealth and strength to our people."