Ok, whatever people might say about the Bund – tacky, over-priced – most are still damn glad it’s there rather than not. It is, after all, the most enduring reminder of Shanghai’s decadent international past. Consequently, when the paradigm of this past, the Peace Hotel, recently closed for its US$65m makeover, a few questions were raised about the area’s future.
For those who don’t already know, the Peace Hotel was the property baby of British trader Victor Sassoon and opened in 1929 as the Cathay Hotel. Built in the gothic style of the Chicago school, it was later renamed the Peace Hotel. Its early guests included a significant amount of luminaries, such as Charlie Chaplin and playwright Noel Coward, the latter of which actually completed his famous work “Private Lives” while staying there. Basically, this is one colonial edifice that would be a massive shame to obliterate.
Fortunately, we can all relax. Hirsh Bedner Associates, the interior design consultancy behind the revamp of the hotel’s North Wing, are now working with Shanghai historian and author of “The Bund Shanghai: China Faces West,” Peter Hibbard, to ensure the hotel’s rich past continues to shape its future. Ian Carr, Principal of HBA, says:
We are keen to gather as much photographic and documentary evidence as will help piece together a comprehensive picture, and an understanding, of how the hotel began life and how it evolved over time. Photographs and accounts detailing the hotel’s rich interior, from the public areas to rooms, as well as personal reminiscences, memorabilia and ephemera are seen as vital in telling this story – a story that promises to re-make history.
If all goes to plan, the hotel is set to open in 2010. Shanghaiist would be more than happy to celebrate the occasion with them.
Photo from the Peace Hotel website