Gong Dong, An Intellectual Biography
On Chinese New Year’s Day, 1972, Gong Dong was born to an intellectual family in Beijing. Both of his parents were professors. His father taught hydraulic engineering at Tsinghua University, while his mother taught chemistry at Beijing Jiaotong University. The year of 1972, in retrospect, was one of change for China. It was marked by the death of Liang Sicheng, one of the key founders of Chinese architectural education; by the historic visit of American president Richard Nixon; and by the imminent return of Deng Xiaoping to the political ring. These events would have a profound impact on Dong and his generation’s life trajectory.
The architect’s name, Gong Dong, contains the first underpinnings of his identity. His family with surname ‘Dong’ comes from Jinghai County in Tianjin, a place not far from Beijing. Going back further, his ancestors can be traced to Hongtong County in northern China’s Shanxi province. His given name ‘Gong’ refers to ‘power’ in hydraulics engineering; in common usage, ‘Gong’ also means ‘academic performance and achievement.’...[+]