Video: His Works, My History

For the Washington Post, Maureen Fan explores the history of her grandfather, a prominent architect in , and the buildings he designed:

The history of a country changes, but often the buildings do not. They continue to stand, mute witnesses to the narrative around them. Those who control them, manage them or live in them fill them with meaning, and that’s what they stand for, until history changes again and they represent something else.

I come from a family of architects, and so the buildings matter to us. My grandfather was one of the most prominent architects in Shanghai, and designed the Nanking Theater, now the Shanghai Concert Hall; the Rialto, Astor and Majestic movie theaters; the YMCA building on Xizhang Road South; numerous university buildings and private residences; and the Railway and Health ministries in the southern city of Nanjing. But the buildings that drew me most were the ones my family once lived in.

In particular, I kept returning to the house at 1292 Huaihai Rd., the last house my grandfather Robert Fan (or Fan Wenzhao) owned before he left China in 1949, just as the Communists took power. He and my grandmother lived here with their four children, including my father, and a handful of servants.



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