Laszlo Hudec is a Slovakian-born architect who ended up making a lasting impact in Shanghai with his designs of more than 100 buildings in the city. Although some have been torn down over the decades, 44 have survived.
Hudec’s main style is reflected in the integrated geometry, varied form, rich detail and original ideas.
Early this year, Hudec was voted one of the “99 Shanghai Symbols” by millions of Chinese netizens. He was the only foreigner to make the list. His Park Hotel and the Normandie Apartments were also listed in “99 Shanghai Symbols.”
Hudec’s style evolved during his active period, from the eclectic neo-classicism popular in the early 20th century to Art Deco and modern buildings toward the later part of his career. It is hard to escape Hudec’s work in Shanghai, especially in the area around People’s Square, the Bund and the historical residential district around Xinhua Road.
From Park Hotel on Nanjing Road W. to the Christian Literature Society Building and the China Baptist Publication Building along the northern Bund, anyone strolling around will have seen some of Hudec’s buildings.
Near Xinhua Road and Panyu Road today are some villas that became distinctive symbols of Hudec’s architectural philosophy. iDEALShanghai has selected a route for Hudec fans to get a panoramic look of his major projects in town.
(Shanghai Daily feature writer Michelle Qiao contributed to this article and Zhang Xuefei provided the photographs.)
It was Laszlo Hudec’s first big project for a Chinese client. Built in an eclectic British Georgian style, it is the city’s first building whose facade was lavishly adorned with heavy marble.
Yesterday: Union Building of the Joint Savings Society
Today: Bank of Shanghai
Built: In 1926
Architectural style: British Georgian
Address: 259 Sichuan Rd M. (across Hankou Rd)
Tips: The building opens during the bank’s office hours. You can look at the original decor on the ground floor, including the marble counters and benches. Don’t forget to check out the facade and ponder Hudec’s solution for the round corner.
It was built in 1887 and was the largest congregation of the Southern Methodist Church in China. The facade is in a collegiate Gothic style with Romanesque manners in some parts. The external walls are adorned with scarlet bricks in a textured pattern.
Yesterday and today: Moore Memorial Church
Built: In 1929-31
Architectural style: Collegiate Gothic style with Romanesque manners
Address: 316 Xizang Rd M.
Tips: The church opens on Saturdays and Sundays. You are suggested to visit the other surviving Hudec church, Sieh Yih Chapel, on 1 Kele Road. It is Shanghai’s only Catholic church topped with a Byzantine dome, which Hudec designed in 1929 and completed in 1931.
This 22-story building designed for the Joint Savings Society represents Hudec’s crowning achievement. It was once the tallest building in the Far East and had dominated the city’s skyline for nearly half a century. The facade is emphasized on vertical stripes which are shrinking layer upon layer until the top, a typical American modern Art Deco style.
Yesterday and today: Park Hotel
Built: In 1934
Architectural style: Art Deco
Address: 170 Nanjing Rd W.
Tips: Check out the informative archive showroom on the second floor and even visit Hudec’s previous project for the owner of the Park Hotel, the Joint Savings Society (now Bank of Shanghai at the intersection of Hankou Road and Sichuan Road).
Hudec delivers one of his best designs for the silver screen. Located on an oddly shaped plot, the Grand Theater was the most difficult job for Hudec among his major achievements in Shanghai. The Grand Theater was a typical Art Deco building. The facade was embellished with flowing lines and vivid colors.
Yesterday and today: The Grand Theater
Built: In 1933
Architectural style: Art Deco
Address: 216 Nanjing Rd W.
Tips: Parts of the 1928 cinema have been preserved, including exterior brick columns on the second floor (fronting No. 2 cinema hall) and the creamy white terrazzo staircase on the western side. It opens to the public from 10am to 11pm.
Click HERE to enjoy Hudec's prolific works in Columbia Circle.