Through the case study of Dazhalan, one of Beijing’s 25 preservation districts, the book evaluates Beijing’s current preservation and urban design policies specific to protection and rehabilitation strategies for traditional courtyard houses, Siheyuan, and their alleyway neighborhoods, Hutong. Beijing’s ambitious 1990s Master plan attempted to define a totalizing image and characteristic form for the entire Old City. This city-wide preservation policy have produced solutions that also handicapped the city’s ability to accommodate changes. Despite the designation of twenty five historic zones, ambiguities in the legislation, such as the lack of definitions of ‘style’ and ‘harmony’ that new constructions should adhere to, resulted in the destruction of 77% (9,720,000 sqm) of Siheyuan and 7000 Hutong. Instead, preservation policies must be revisited and expanded to incorporate community building, sustainability, and contemporary design tools and methods to better address conflicts between inevitable social changes and historic image.