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Demolition of historic club to go ahead

DESPITE pleas from architectural experts, a real estate developer is to go ahead with plans to demolish the 106-year-old Shanghai Rowing Club to make way for a new construction project.

Demolition was suspended last Saturday when Ruan Yisan, the city's foremost expert in historic architecture protection, went to the construction site and appealed for the building to be protected. But the interior of the club had already been destroyed.

The club is being torn down in a project entitled the Bund Origin, a comprehensive reformation of the Bund area.

Ruan said the building needed to be preserved for its historic and cultural value. The swimming pool inside the building was one of the earliest sports facilities in modern China.

"It's not difficult to modify the plan," said Chang Qing, an architecture professor at Tongji University and a member of the expert panels for the design of the project.

The Bund Origin is at the confluence of Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River. Regarded as the origin of the Bund and also the city, the area contains 14 historic architectures including the former British Consulate of Shanghai built in 1873.

Ruan believed the club, the consulate, Union Church and Waibaidu Bridge constituted the original Bund area.

But experts didn't list the Shanghai Rowing Club as a historic architecture in need of protection in the 2002 plans for Bund Origin.

"We thought the original building had been knocked down to make way for a new four-story building in the 1950s," Chang said. "But new discoveries revealed that the original two-story had been preserved and the other two floors were just added on."

But officials with the Shanghai New Huang Pu Real Estate Co Ltd said the project would continue as planned.


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