Published 01/01/12

Forbidden City's Shu Fang Zhai to be replicated on Bryant campus

SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Bryant University and its U.S.-China Institute are embarking on an ambitious project that will bring a replica of the Forbidden City's Shu Fang Zhai to the Bryant campus.

The replica will be the first to be built outside of China with the permission and cooperation of the Chinese government. Once completed, Bryant's Shu Fang Zhai will become the new home of Bryant's U.S.-China Institute. The project is expected to cost approximately $15 million.

The University announced the project on May 17, 2008, at an unveiling of a scale model of the building. Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley, along with former President George H.W. Bush and Chinese entrepreneur Fan Jinchuan, assisted with the unveiling and offered brief remarks.

"I believe projects like this are just what we need to train tomorrow's leaders to build productive relationships."

George W. Bush

The University is working directly with the Forbidden City's chief architect, who will supervise the fabrication of the buildings following age-old processes used within the Forbidden City. The structure will then be disassembled and shipped to the Bryant campus to be erected here.

"The Shu Fang Zhai at Bryant will serve as a cultural and academic center for the exchange of ideas, and cultures, and the expansion of knowledge and friendship which we and the Chinese believe will allow our two great countries and our students to better understand and respect one another," Machtley said at the unveiling.

"As someone who has witnessed firsthand the growing relationship between the United States and China over the past 35 years … it gives me great pleasure to be part of today's celebration," said Mr. Bush. "I believe projects like this are just what we need to train tomorrow's leaders to build productive relationships with world neighbors like China. I wish Bryant University great success in this visionary effort."

At 178 acres, the Forbidden City in Beijing is the world's largest palace complex. For five centuries (1420-1912), emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties called the Forbidden City's 9,000-plus rooms home. The Forbidden City also served as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Shu Fang Zhai Zhai was built in 1420 and renovated in the 18th century. It served as a venue for elaborate banquets and opera performances.

Although portions of the Forbidden City are now open to the public, Shu Fang Zhai is not. Since 1924, when the Forbidden City came under the care of the Palace Museum, Shu Fang Zhai has served as a VIP reception chamber for heads of states and dignitaries.