Donation from an Architect
Jang Soon-yong from Samaseung architectural firm
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On a typical breezy morning, the News H visited the oldest architectural firm in Korea, Samaseung architectural firm. The walls of the antique office room were filled with old books stacked orderly on the shelves and a brown sofa in the corner illumed signs of old age. The head of the firm, Jang Soon-yong (Department of Architectural Engineering, ’72), greeted the reporters with a gentle smile. Jang unraveled the story of donating 13,252 Korean ancient architecture documents and data to Hanyang University (HYU). His generosity is a gift to enhance the future quality of architectural education.
Traditional Architectural Material
On October 10th, the HYU President announced that Jang made a large contribution to the Department of Architecture by donating historical resources and material to the school. As the head of Samaseung, founded in 1965, Jang has been involved in numerous architectural projects, and the processes and details of them are recorded in the donated documents. “While I was organizing the office and the storehouse, I noticed thousands of unnoticed documents and blueprints. I considered giving it to a museum, but then there was a chance of them being kept mostly unseen by students and experts,” said Jang. “So, as an architect, I wanted these valuable historical documents to be sought and looked at by people who actually needed them for their studies. Hanyang University was the perfect place.”
The materials that Jang donated to the school comprise of ancient Korean architectural data that preserve the history of unique buildings and historical sites. The bestowed documents include materials relating to the rebuilding of Suwon Castle and the construction of Andong Dam in the 1970s. “Today, we use computer-based storage system to save documents. Before the 1990s, there was no such system and we had to manually map out the architecture with a pencil,” said Jang. The history of the sources go all the way back to the Japanese colonial era when Jang’s father started to study architecture. Therefore, the value of these materials exceeds numerical worth.
One Family, Three Architects
As the head of Samaseung architectural firm, Jang is currently continuing the legacy of his father, Jang Ki-in, who established the firm. The influence Jang received from his father was immense, leading him to actively participate in architectural projects for the government. Those projects include the reconstruction and maintenance activities of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bulguksa Temple, Gwanghwamun Gate, and many more. Jang’s son, Jang Phil-gu, is also involved with architecture as a university professor. Surprisingly, all three of them have graduated from Hanyang University, sharing a common passion in both architecture and alma mater. Jang said, “Having the same identity of being a former student at Hanyang, I am proud of my son for his decision to continue the family legacy.”
Continuing what Jang’s father had created was not an easy job. Initially, Jang did not have complete knowledge of Korean traditional buildings. “When I was at university, there wasn’t a course on Korean architecture. I had only learned Western-style architecture,” Jang explained. “After experiencing what it was to work in the field, I began to study more of what was Korean by collecting data from abroad.” Jang realized that studying was the fastest way to success. The historical site maintenance work gave him the opportunity to obtain knowledge on the science of preservation, such as chemical and lumber treatment. “For me, architecture is fun because I learn something new and interesting each time I commit to a project.”
Providing Sources for Learning
“The reason why I decided to donate the materials relates to my passion for learning architecture,” said Jang. “I want the data to be openly used by students. When those materials were kept in my storeroom, the necessary cataloging was not done. Once the Architecture Department building completes its renovation, I hope the school will provide adequate space and service for easy access to donated materials.”
Akin to his valuable contribution to the school, Jang’s warm-heartedness was evident during the interview. His love for architecture is the perfect example of Hanyang’s pride. Jang's legacy in architecture is hoped to be continued for more generations to come.
Park Min-young firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Moon Ha-na
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