By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
SMITHFIELD – A groundbreaking for the replica of a section of Beijing’s Forbidden City to be built at Bryant University has been set for April, according to the school.
Building on a three-year collaboration between Bryant and China’s Palace Museum, the construction of “The Shu Fang Zhai at Bryant will serve as an iconic visual and functional cultural heritage site for the exchange of ideas and academic programs,” said Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley in a statement. “It will become a unique and integrated facility for the expansion of future Bryant Chinese programs.”
A Bryant delegation met Nov. 8 with leaders of the Palace Museum to discuss the groundbreaking ceremony, which will be part of the university’s 150th anniversary celebration.
The first phase of creation of the replica, which will be fabricated in China and shipped to Bryant, is expected to be completed before the end of 2013.
When completed, the complex will cover approximately half an acre on the Bryant campus and will be part of Bryant’s U.S.-China Institute and Confucius Institute.
The reconstruction of a piece of the Forbidden City will be the first built outside of China with the permission and cooperation of the Chinese government. The project was first announced in May 2008.
Xu Lin, director of Hanban in Bejing, plans to attend the groundbreaking ceremony (Hanban is the Chinese agency that oversees the international network of Confucius Institutes.)
Machtley and other Bryant delegates met with museum officials in Beijing on the opening day of the Chinese government’s 18th Party Conference. The Bryant delegation also met in Zhuhai and Beijing with directors of the Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhuhai to continue discussing a joint academic venture that will result in Bryant developing a branch campus in China.
Plans for that facility will be the subject of meetings among the universities, their accrediting associations, and the Chinese government.
Bryant said in a press release that it is expected the Chinese partners will provide all capital investments, including land and facilities.
Bryant University made a commitment more than a decade ago to establish strong ties and relationships with universities and programs in China. Since then, the school has ranked 14th in the nation for study abroad among its peers.