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Playful iconic 'Flintstone' house gets even more fun

By Chang Jun in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-02-06 12:15

A housewarming party to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year served as an opportunity to reflect on how Chinese Americans have gained traction in the US and how they help cement bilateral relations between the world's two largest economies.

On Feb 3, Florence Fang, owner of the Hillsborough, California-based Flintstone House, threw open the doors of her iconic property - named for the animated sitcom about a Stone Age family created by Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s - to welcome a group of 40 guests that included Chinese diplomats, business people and the media.

"Please take your time to check each and every corner of this house. Since the transaction last July, I have been busy upgrading the indoor and outdoor decorations," said Fang, one of the founders of the US-China Strong Foundation, an organization dedicated to strengthening two-way communication.

One of Fang's home-improvement projects involves installation of three gigantic dinosaur sculptures, a woolly mammoth and giraffe. Ornamental mushrooms are scattered around the rolling 2-acre yard.

"I want to add some mystery and childishness to this building, leaving a footprint of my style," said Fang.

The 83-year-old philanthropist said she is racing against time to do the right thing, including pushing forward the cause of China-US friendship.

Luo Linquan, China's consul general in San Francisco, led his team to congratulate Fang on her real estate achievement.

"This architectural masterpiece is now owned by one of our most influential community leaders," said Luo. "This is a genuinely wonderful combination and we hope she will make the best use of it."

Designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976 in the form of domes, the three-bedroom residence was an experiment in new building materials and concepts. By spreading concrete onto wire mesh frames and inflated balloons, Nicholson created an exterior that looks like bubbles or marshmallows evoking the cartoon Stone Age.

Nestled in the hills overlooking Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo, the architecture and facade in purple and ocher continually grab the attention of drivers on the I-280 highway.

"When I heard that the house was on the market last year, I pushed my agent to make an offer and expedite the transaction within one week," said Fang. "I don't waste time weighing whether the decision is right or the timing is good."

This just-go-for-it approach might explain why five years ago she joined the Washington-based nonprofit US-China Strong Foundation as one of the founding members and has worked hard ever since to invest in and equip young leaders of tomorrow in the US with the knowledge and skills to engage with China.

Fang's vision of fostering mutual understanding among younger generations can be traced back to 2008, when she financed the five-year construction of a building at Peking University for teaching foreigners about Chinese language and culture.

Fang put $2.5 million into the building and her only request was that it have an open area to serve as an international hall where students and scholars from all over the world could sit and meet.

"There are uncertainties and maybe clashes ahead, China and the US need to conduct constructive communications to reduce friction," said Fang, "because this bilateral relationship is the most consequential of its kind in the world".

Flintstone House architect Nicholson made a presentation at the party Saturday. "I'm so glad that Ms Fang now owns the house. Obviously she loves it inside and out," he said.

Contact the writer at junechang@chinadailyusa.com

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