Idealizing a Chinese Style

Preferred Citation

Lai, Delin. “Idealizing a Chinese Style.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 73, no. 1 (2014): 61–90.

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The National Central Museum in Nanjing (1935–48) was co-designed by the most distinguished architectural historian in twentieth-century China—Liang Sicheng. It has long been regarded, however, as a representative work of “conservative revivalism” in modern Chinese architectural history. Idealizing a Chinese Style: Rethinking Early Writings on Chinese Architecture and the Design of the National Central Museum in Nanjing attempts to demonstrate the creativity of the design process, Lin Huiyin, and the architects’ ideal for a Chinese-style modern architecture. This ideal, Delin Lai argues, is profoundly rooted in the expectation of Chinese intellectuals for a “Chinese renaissance,” for which the Chinese architectural past was studied, evaluated, and more importantly, redefined through a dialogue with the contemporary architectural discourses and historiography formed in the West. The National Central Museum epitomizes this search for an ideal.

Additional Citation Information



Title: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Volume: 73

Date of Publication: 2014

Pages: 61-90


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