Last night saw the opening of the new Chinese embassy (or the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China) in the Van Ness diplomatic compound. Designed by two sons of I.M. Pei (who’s known for the Louvre and our own east wing of National Gallery of Art), it takes up a heady southwest corner area of that plot of land. It’s now well out of public view, as was not the case with their old digs on Connecticut Avenue just north of the Dupont Circle area and south of Woodley Park. That embassy had been the target of vocal and not-so-vocal protests from human rights activists to Falun Gong supporters nearly every weekend.
I regularly zipped by on my motorcycle or walked by it while crossing the bridge heading north. The construction hasn’t been without controversy, as the Chinese government had flown in it’s own workers for the two year construction project, angering a number of labor unions and construction trades. My biggest wonder, is what will happen to the old embassy, will they implode it to hide secrets, allow curiosity seekers to prowl over it’s mysterious bowls, or let it lie fallow like a number of other vacated embassies around town. Too bad the housewarming party wasn’t open to everybody.