For the past 15 years, foreign architects have flocked to Shanghai, where they can work on projects of a scale and cost that they could scarcely imagine at home. But who among them will leave a legacy equal to that of Ladislaus Hudec, a Czech architect who designed more than 50 buildings between 1918 and 1938, of which a dozen remain today? The most imposing is the Park Hotel, an 84-metre-high building completed in 1933 overlooking the north side of the city's race course, and then the tallest building in Asia. With the exterior of the first three floors decorated in black granite, and the remaining 19 in dark brown tiles, the hotel has a brooding design that mixes Gothic and Art Deco styles. Eclipsed now by new five-star hotels run by the international chains, the Park was, in the pre-war era, one of the most prestigious addresses, popular with foreign bankers, film stars and officials of the nationalist government. In 1935, Soong May-ling, the wife of Chiang Kai-shek, celebrated the launch of the Sino-US long-distance phone service at a ceremony there. I.M. Pei, the best-known ethnic Chinese architect, wrote in his memoirs that it was the Park that inspired him to join the profession. Nearby is the Grand Cinema, built by Hudec in 1932 as the most advanced of its kind, with a simultaneous translation system in all its 1,913 seats. The outer facade resembles a giant sail blowing against a high wave. Then, walk past City Hall to Moore Memorial Methodist Church, named after a Texan who donated the money for its construction. Its exterior is red brick, with an interior of rich woodwork and stone arches. Hudec's personal history is more than worthy of the Shanghai adventure. Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1893, he graduated in 1914 from the Royal University of Hungary and, two years later, was elected to the Royal Institute of Hungarian Architects. Conscripted into the army, he was sent to the eastern front and captured by the tsarist Russian army. He was sent to a prison camp in Khabarovsk, Siberia. His status as an officer and an architect earned him preferential treatment, to the extent that he could take pictures of himself and send them home. In 1918, he escaped and reached Shanghai, where he joined the firm of a US architect. In 1925, he set up his own practice, and it boomed. He designed hospitals, clubs, schools, banks, churches, cinemas, offices and apartment buildings. He married a German woman named Gisela. A few years before the communist takeover, he left Shanghai and moved briefly to Switzerland, before settling in California, where he died in 1958.