Did you know that Lin Huiyin was born in China, today in 1904? She was the first female architect in modern China and is beloved for her work in preserving ancient Chinese architecture. After studying in England and the United States, she and her husband recognized the lack of knowledge about ancient Chinese architecture. During the 1930’s Lin Huiyin and her husband traveled throughout China to search for and identify China’s ancient architectural heritage. They found and documented almost 2,000 temples, pagoda, monasteries, and other important buildings. As many of these buildings were destroyed by war, the Cultural Revolution, and ‘modern progress’, Lin Huiyin and her husband’s writing, illustrations, and photographs are all that are left of these marvels.
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Lin Huiyin was also an accomplished writer and poet. She had a friendship and the admiration of the famed Indian poet Tagore.
Lin Huiyin and her husband found information about ancient structures in ancient texts, paintings, and even folk songs – and then they traveled to find these structures. One of the temples they found was a temple built in AD 857!
Travel conditions outside of larger cities could be dangerous. Lin Huiyin and her traveling companions encountered roads that were barely more than muddy tracks; disease; vermin-infested lodging; lack of provisions; and bandits, rebels, and warlord armies.
Lin Huiyin was involved with the design of the Chinese national flag as well as monuments located in Tiananmen Square.
Lin Huiyin attended St. Mary’s College, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. Where she could she studied architecture. In universities where women were not allowed to study architecture, she studied fine arts.
Lin Huiyin did not enjoy continuous prestige. Much of her work was attacked and denounced during the anti-intellectual movements of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s. Decades passed before her work was recognized again. Today, Lin Huiyin and her husband are considered cultural icons.
Lin Huiyin and her husband were also architecture professors. Some of their protégés survived the Cultural Revolution and carry on the work of preserving China’s architectural heritage from indiscriminate destruction as cities try to modernize.
Lin Huiyin was married to Liang Sicheng, considered the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture”.
Lin Huiyin’s niece is the famous artist Maya Lin.