HCMC to preserve parts of Tax Center

By Dinh Phu, Thanh Nien News

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The Saigon Tax Trade Center. Photo: Trung Hieu

The Ho Chi Minh City mayor's office has approved a proposal to preserve parts of the Saigon Tax Trade Center, the century-old downtown shopping center that's slated to be torn down to make way for a 40-story skyscraper.
According to the proposal, made by the city's architecture department, the developer of the new building is to preserve the main lobby, the grand staircase and bronze railings as well as the tiled lobby mosaic.
As for the building's exterior, the developer will have to preserve the ornate overhangs that shade the sidewalks.
It said the developer could also propose the preservation of other parts of the building that would increase its architectural value.

A banister contour at the Saigon Tax Trade Center carved in the shape of the Coq Gaulois (the Gallic Rooster). Photo: Doc Lap.
The department will now work with the Ministry of Culture and Sports to give the developer details of its preservation options.
After the city authorities unveiled plans to tear down the building, more than 300 architects, researchers and students signed a petition calling on the municipal government to preserve parts of the 134-year-old shopping center.
They called on the developer to preserve the lobby mosaic as well as the bronze railings that line the central staircase--even if they have to dismantle and remove them from the building.
The Saigon Tax Trade Center was built in 1880 and has been renovated several times since. However, several of the building's interior elements, including the lobby, mosaic floor, and the main staircase are the original 19th century items.
Originally known as “the Grands Magasins Charner,” the building opened in 1924 and became “the place to shop in Saigon,” according to Saigon historian Tim Doling.
Last renovated in 2003, the building retains many of its original interior features, notably its beautiful stairway and its decorative wrought iron railings.

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