For Immediate Release
Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix
Contact for further information:
Press Release September 20, 2017
CHINESE UNITED ASSOCIATION OF GREATER PHOENIX RESPONDS TO DEVELOPER TRUE NORTH AND THEIR UNIFORMED IDEA TO RELOCATE THE PHOENIX CHINESE CULTURAL CENTER
Phoenix, AZ, September 20, 2017: The Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix and all its affiliate organizations which participated in the design, construction, donation and development of the Chinese Cultural Center, hereby publish the following information regarding the significance and irreplaceable value of the Chinese Cultural Center. The True North Company has incorrectly stated that we could easily move the Chinese Cultural Center to another location. This is a false narrative, and this writing will help the careful reader understand that RELOCATION = DEMOLITION.
The Chinese Cultural Center was built as a joint effort among the developer, Arizona state government, Phoenix city government, and the Chinese American community. It is undoubtedly a landmark for Phoenix and Arizona. It can be seen from the air, from the freeway and by its city gateway. The Center has become a truly cultural and educational icon…not just for the local Chinese American community, but for all within the State, as well. It has indeed become one of the top tourist attractions in Arizona, and it has become known, thanks to the internet, to millions around the world. It is our humble opinion that it would be highly insensitive and irresponsible to destroy and demolish the Center under the name of redevelopment…a tragedy of nationwide significance if it were to be eliminated and moved from its current location.
1. Buildings of the Chinese Cultural Center and its Garden are inseparable as they are Yin Yang balanced. The principles of balance and harmony embodied and shown on the grounds of the Center with the Yin Yang symbol, were further enhanced by the analysis of the Fengshui for the Center and Garden, to ensure that all the forces of nature would flow properly. Any change of its original design, therefore, will result in damage to the great architectural wisdom used in the Center’s construction and, according to custom, could bring “bad luck” that should be avoided.
The Chinese classic architecture used in the design and building of the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center, with its adjacent garden as a whole, is very unique and has without question achieved the status of an architectural masterpiece. Each and every Chinese element used in the building process of the property, including the iconic garden, was designed by the same architect that designed the Ming Garden located at the Metropolitan Museum of New York. The design of the garden was a clever collection of the finest classic gardens from five (5) ancient cities famous for their classic Chinese gardens. This point was succinctly made by the Center’s Chinese architect Madam Ye in a recent letter she penned to the Phoenix City Council:
“The main building structure and the garden in the foreground complement and echo each other, thus harmoniously making them an inseparable whole. Removing any one of these elements would result in losing its distinct and noble characteristics.”
She goes on to say, “The building structure and the garden together give people a multi-dimensional visual experience with the contrast of the grandiose main building and the intricate garden pavilions. Because of the clever combination of the garden and its adjacent building, the Center presents multiple sub-sceneries of separate mini-gardens that changes scenes as you walk along the pass-way. The scenery changes with each moving step, showing the mini-scenery with a total picture presentation, while the whole view contains so many micro details for appreciation. The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center as a whole is a truly unique cultural art piece that showcases cultural and classic Chinese architecture and cultural elements in its entirety.”
All pavilions, arches and galleries in the iconic garden are the exact replicas of an original found in China, several of which are now designated by the United Nations as a “World Heritage” site and therefore are no longer allowed to be replicated, thus making this garden of ours the only one of its kind in the world outside China. More importantly, the materials used, including the roof tiles, the granite used for the statues and column base, river stones for the garden floor, the paved pathways and the wood used in the garden structures, etc. are in tremendous demand in China, resulting in them becoming prohibited from being exported any longer. Most of all, the ancient technique of the wood structure construction (itself a United Nations designated World Intangible Heritage of Humanity) was used to construct all the pavilions and galleries with the interconnection of each piece like a jigsaw puzzle. NOT ONE NAIL WAS USED TO PUT IT TOGETHER. The structures built with this puzzle-like technique are so delicate that to relocate them will result in the destruction of the structures.
THEREFORE, RELOCATION = DEMOLITION
2. The Chinese Cultural Center was built by Masters with Chinese traditional architecture and craftmanship as classified by the United Nations World Heritage Center (UNESCO) as Intangible World Heritage. Any attempt to disassemble and relocate such a designated masterpiece would in fact be destroying a masterpiece of human civilization.
All the pieces with Chinese elements in the Center were first prefabricated in China by hand, transported to Phoenix and installed in the U.S. by over one-hundred (100) famous Fragrant Hill Group Craft masters. (Fragrant Hills Park is an imperial garden at the foot of the Western Mountains in the Haidian District, located in the northwestern part of Beijing, China. The park was built in 1186.)
The masters are so special in their traditional classical skills that twelve (12) years after they built the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center their classical technique used in the Center’s design was designated by the United Nations as an Intangible World Heritage in 2009. As of today, all of their work, is viewed as art that is of museum quality. In fact, they are the same group that built the famous Ming Garden Court at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Their ancestors built many famous and historical sites, including the Chinese Imperial Palace in Beijing, known to the world as The Forbidden City. Today, with their international recognition, coupled with the fact that most of them are old or have passed away, anything they build or have built is considered a national architectural treasure.
The proposition by the developer that one can simply relocate such delicate masterpieces demonstrates an ignorance and lack of appreciation of art, and it is totally disrespectful to the masters who have created those pieces using their unique skills which has taken a lifetime to develop. Additionally, once taken down, the architecture will never have the same value and any attempt to deconstruct and relocate those handmade art pieces represents a destruction of human architectural heritage and assets.
UNESCO has described this Intangible World Heritage this way:
“Standing as distinctive symbols of Chinese architectural culture, timber-framed structures are found throughout the country. The wooden components such as the columns, beams, purlins, lintel and bracket sets are connected by tenon joints in a flexible, earthquake resistant way. The surprisingly strong frames can be installed quickly at the building site by assembling components manufactured in advance. In addition to this structural carpentry, the architectural craft also encompasses decorative woodworking, tile roofing, stone work, decorative painting and other arts passed down from masters to apprentices and via verbal and other practical instruction. Each phase of the construction procedure demonstrates its unique and systemic methods and skills. Employed today mainly in the construction of structures, in the traditional style and in restoring ancient timber-framed buildings, Chinese traditional architectural craftmanship for timber-framed structures embodies a heritage of wisdom and craftmanship and reflects an inherited understanding of nature and interpersonal relationships in traditional Chinese society. For the carpenters and artisans who preserve this architectural style, and for the people who have lived in and among the spaces defined by it for generations, it has become a central visual component of Chinese identity and an important representative of Asian architecture.”
Therefore, RELOCATION =DEMOLITION
3. The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center was built with precious, special and traditional Chinese materials. Once removed and taken down, they can never be replaced or repaired.
All materials used in the building of the Center are precious now as the supply of them has dwindled. The wood used was cured and weathered outside for more than fifty (50) years. The stone used comes from the precious and protected Gold Mountain which was reserved only for the Imperial families and those most well-known persons in China. The stone is protected now by the Chinese government and due to its rarity, its use is prohibited. The roof tiles were made from special clay which no longer exists. The hand-made production of these tiles has been replaced by machine fabrication and the Royal Kiln that made those tiles is no longer in service.
As for the tiles themselves, over 1 million golden and blue gazed roof tiles were picked from the 4 million that were produced for this project. Thus, any attempt to remove these tiles will result in the destruction of them.
Observe, please, another paragraph from Madam Ye’s Letter:
“Since the garden was built in the traditional way to only use old classical material, and those older materials are now exhausted given the demand for them domestically. The stone, steles, statues and monuments in the Garden of Harmony are made with stones from Suzhou’s Gold Mountain quarry, and today that mountain is protected, and so taking any stone from there is forbidden. The Liu Li (glazed) colored roof tiles for the building and for the Garden of Harmony today are all precious and cannot be replicated, as mass-produced materials and mass production are used today. As such, any future material anyone can find cannot compare with the materials and small kiln techniques used here twenty (20) years ago.”
Madam Ye goes on to say, “, the glazed roof tiles were reserved only for the use of the Royals and the golden colored glazed tiles were used only for the Imperial structures, such as those used in the three (3) magnificent ceremonial halls of the Forbidden City. The use of golden glazed roof tile by any common people would have resulted in capital punishment. It is only in modern times that this class restriction has been abolished allowing for this golden glazed roof tile to be installed as classic art for other buildings. The Sea figurines and Beasts on top of all four (4) corners of the rooflines were of architectural tradition based on ancient fables that these Sea figurines and Beasts had the power to protect the building from fire disaster.”
We noticed in the press release put out by True North that they indicate a desire to simply remove the roof tiles from the building. Please be aware, those tiles each have a hand-drilled hole in them, placed there before being placed on the roof. They are interconnected by steel wire ties, thus ensuring quality and durability and construction designed to last for hundreds of years. Any attempt to remove any piece of pavilion or tile will result in demolishing them.
(For additional information regarding the making of those tiles, please visit the links below:)
THEREFORE, RELOCATION = DEMOLITION
4. The Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center is not just a place to show the diversity of American values…it is a treasure of culture and history. All residents of Arizona have a responsibility to preserve it for our future generations. This includes True North.
While we appreciate True North’s stated intention to preserve some of the artifacts in different locations, it should be obvious that such a good intention is in fact leading to permanent damage. It means destruction to this great masterpiece…the Phoenix Chinese Cultural Center. It is also obvious that True North lacks the understanding of what the Center means to culture and history in Arizona. By suggesting that they have the answer and the answer is to simply move the Center to a location of “their” choosing, True North demonstrates disrespect for the Chinese American community while at the same time failing to appreciate this valuable asset and what it means to Phoenix and, in fact, Arizona and the world.
We strongly encourage True North to think deeply of all that we have said in this writing. Study it, meditate on it. Once you have done this, communicate with the Chinese American community, with the City and others concerned about history and culture. Please do this before engaging in any further attempts to relocate or remove any cultural and historical elements of the Chinese Cultural Center.
The Chinese community is ready to provide financial compensation to buy back the Chinese Cultural Center which will result in a financial windfall to True North of some 3 million dollars. The result will be a win-win-win situation. True North will make a substantial financial gain in three months’ time. The Chinese Cultural Center will be preserved for the public good. The Chinese American community and all Phoenix residents will once again have a Cultural Center in which they can celebrate cultural diversity, while protecting this masterpiece from disappearing as a Phoenix landmark. And finally, the City will be viewed as a lover of culture, lover of history and lover of the Chinese Americans. This, rather than being viewed as the city which allowed the destruction of its China Town for the third time resulting in an image of a city that is anti-culture, anti-history and anti-Chinese.
The Chinese United Association of Greater Phoenix (CUAGP) sincerely hopes that with this information, the City of Phoenix and its residents will act swiftly to support the Chinese American community in its effort to save this beautiful treasure for our city, state and country.
Protection and preservation of the Center in its current location will result in the safeguarding of our history and culture…the history and culture of all of us and our future generations.
STOP RELOCATION! IT IS IN FACT DEMOLITION AND DESRIMINATION!
RELOCATION = DEMOLITION