UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

East Asian Library Library director Peter Zhou, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, and former Examiner publisher Florence Fang show off an artist's rendering of what the new East Asian Library will look like once completed. (Peg Skorpinski photos)

Florence Fang gift helps the East Asian Library take shape

– University of California, Berkeley's Chancellor Robert Birgeneau today (Thursday, Oct. 19) announced the receipt of a $3 million donation from businesswoman Florence Fang, former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, closing the funding gap for construction of the campus's new C.V. Starr East Asian Library and Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies.

The four-story center taking shape in the middle of campus will bring together the UC Berkeley's vast resources and programs in East Asian Studies, which currently are scattered in various locations across campus. The facility, approved by the UC Board of Regents at a cost of $46.4 million, has been totally funded by private donations.

 Florence Fang
'In this land, I started my family, my business and my dream. America adopted me and gave me a good opportunity to fulfill my dream. It is time to give back.'
-Florence Fang

When it opens in fall 2007, the library will be the first freestanding building ever constructed on an American university campus for East Asian collections, underscoring UC Berkeley's long-term commitment to East Asia and the academic stature of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. The central study area in the new library will be named the Florence Lee Fang Reading Room.

At a news conference held this morning, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said the new facility "will no doubt encourage and inspire scholarship, drawing students and scholars from across the campus and the world."

"More than 40 years ago, I came to the United States as a new bride," said Fang. "In this land, I started my family, my business and my dream. America adopted me and gave me a good opportunity to fulfill my dream. It is time to give back."

The East Asian Library traces its origin to 1898, with the deposit of John Fryer's Chinese collection at UC Berkeley. It offers one of the nation's two most comprehensive collections of East Asian materials outside of the Library of Congress. Holdings number nearly 900,000 pieces, in books, serials, maps, rubbings, manuscripts, and non-print materials. Portions of the collection are unparalleled outside East Asia.

"UC Berkeley has been collecting East Asian materials for over 100 years," said Peter Zhou, director of the East Asian Library. "Its collection is one of the largest and richest outside of Asia. We hope that the new Starr Library will enhance our performance as a learning center, a research center and a cultural center."

He said the new building underscores UC Berkeley's commitment to East Asia and to the academic stature of East Asian Studies on campus.

The architectural firm for the C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Tod Williams-Billie Tsien Architects, is known for work emphasizing the importance of place and exploring the nature of materials. Williams and Tsien share the Louis I. Kahn chair at Yale University.

Their design for the Starr Library was created to be harmonious with the neoclassical core of UC Berkeley as designed by John Galen Howard in the 1910s and '20s.

The granite slabs on the building's exterior, imported from China, will match the fašade of UC Berkeley's Doe Library's on the opposite side of Memorial Glade. A custom designed bronze screen is being cast in Shanghai. To be installed over the south, west and east facing windows, the screen is reminiscent of Asian lattice work.