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Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, opens

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

February 23, 2008 12:00am

Some 10 years in the making, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan will open to the public on Feb. 23, 2008.  .  A remarkable and ambitious undertaking for the Los Angeles-area institution, the garden reflects traditional Suzhou-style scholar gardens and features a 1.5-acre lake, a complex of pavilions, a tea house and tea shop, and five stone bridges, set against a wooded backdrop of mature oaks and pines. This initial phase of the garden covers about 3.5 acres of a planned 12-acre site.  Development of future phases of the Chinese Garden will proceed over a period of years.

East West Bank is the sole corporate sponsor of the Feb. 23 opening and of The Huntington’s Chinese New Year Festival, which will take place on the same day.

The Chinese Garden opened temporarily for previewing in August 2006 after completion of the lake, bridges, and the placement of craggy stones from the Lake Tai region of China. It closed again in March 2007 so that construction could begin on the structures around the lake’s edge.

Two firms based in China have worked with The Huntington to provide authenticity to the project. The Suzhou Institute of Landscape Architectural Design, developed detailed construction plans, working from the initial conceptual drawings done by Jin Chen. Among the challenges faced by the architects was adapting traditional Chinese structures to meet U.S. regulations for seismic safety and wheelchair accessibility. Fabrication and construction was provided by the Suzhou Garden Development Co., Ltd. The firm sent 11 stone artisans to The Huntington in 2006 to install the hand-carved bridges and to place the stones around the lake. Another 50 wood carvers, roof tile experts, stone pavers, and other specialists arrived in summer 2007 to work on the structures. Nearly all materials except structural steel and concrete have come from China, including highly sculptural “scholar rocks.”

Offenhauser Associates, of Burbank, Calif., is coordinating the architectural and engineering work; site preparation, structural work, and coordination of the Chinese artisans is being conducted by ValleyCrest Landscape Development of Calabasas, Calif.

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