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Fri, Jan 28, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Historic building move a success

HERITAGE CONSERVATION Using purely traditional Taiwanese expertise, a 70-year-old university building in Taipei was moved over 22 meters to make room for the construction of more modern facilities

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A relocation ceremony was held for National Taiwan University's historic department of pharmacy building yesterday. The building was moved 22 meters in the direction of Hsuchou Street to make way for a new convention center and medical research building.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

"This time, we can say that we indeed moved the house," said Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at a ceremony held by the city government and National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday.

The "house" Ma was referring to is a historic building constructed in the 1930s that became home to NTU's Department of Pharmacy starting in 1953.

Over a total of two weeks, it was moved 22.7 meters to make room for the construction of a new conference center and a medical research building for the university hospital.

The relocation of the building was a first for Taipei. It was the first time such techniques were used in order to preserve a historic piece of architecture.

Recalling the history behind the unprecedented decision to shift the structure, Ma said when the university began planning to build a modern complex on the site, it struggled over whether to demolish the historic structure.

With the assistance of the city's Bureau of Urban Development, NTU decided to spend NT$14 million to use a local firm, renowned for using unique traditional techniques to relocate buildings, to shift the structure.

Lin Chih-jan (林枝然), proprietor of the North & South Building Relocation Company (南北樓房遷移工程公司) was in charge of the removal. He led dozens of workers in shifting the building the final meter to its new location yesterday -- an effort that took 35 minutes.

Lin said because the brick building was designed without any structural beams, his company's first task was to install H-shaped steel bars to reinforce the 2,000-ton structure before moving it.

What followed was what modern architects like Kuo Zee-yih (郭子毅) call "purely Taiwanese-made techniques" for building relocations.

Kuo, advisor to the North & South Building Relocation Company, said the firm used cable winches and over 1,000 steel rollers to ensure that moving the building would cause minimal damage to the historic structure.

After the relocation was complete, Lin gave a relieved sigh. "It feels great to finish the job," he said.

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