Central, on Hong Kong Island, is where colonial Hong Kong started its life from, back in the 1840s, and where some of the city’s most glitzy skyscrapers and swish shopping malls currently stand. As a matter of fact, the area sometimes looks like a showcase of the world’s leading architects…
This article will guide you through a few of Central’s most architecturally fascinating buildings.
Naturally, unless you are staying at one of the hotels nearby, you will start your visit to “Central” from either MTR-Central or the Star Ferry Pier.
- Two IFC Tower – Just between the ferry pier and the Airport Express Station, is currently the city’s tallest skyscraper, although it is soon going to lose its supremacy to the upcoming International Commerce Centre in Kowloon. Soaring to a height of 415 m, this contemporary obelisk-shaped megatower is possibly Hong Kong skyline’s most striking feature. It was architected by Cesar Pelli, the famous Argentinian born architect who is behind the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, and attracted some controversy at the time, as it breached the Metro-plan guidelines not allowing new buildings to cut Mount Victoria’s ridge-line, when seen from different key points along the harbour, including Tsim Sha Tsui’s waterfront esplanade.
- Rising to 346 m, The Center is Hong Kong’s fourth tallest skyscraper, and one of the only highrises in the city that is entirely steel-structured, with no reinforced concrete core. Other than its unique polygonal circumference, “The Centre” is particularly distinguished for its neon-lights-arrangement, comprising almost 10,000 neon tubes in different colors, which turns the building into one of the most prominent features of the “Symphony of lights” show. There is a skylobby on the 42nd floor, which serves as an observation deck.
- HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building (or simply HSBC Building) stands across the road from Statue Square and features a classic example of Hong Kong’s modern architecture, combining contemporary design with traditional Feng Shui philosophy… Designed by famous British architect, Norman Foster, this 180 metres tall building has a module design, consisting of five steel modules with no internal support structure. It was the most expensive building in the world by the time it was completed, in 1985, worth roughly HK$ 5.2 billion. Tip: Take the escalator to the 1st floor and see the building’s colossal atrium…
- Bank of China (BOC) Tower, just a stone’s throw from HSBC Building, is one of the metropolis’ most familiar towers and can be seen from almost every point around Victoria Harbour and the city. Rising to a height of 315 meters, this architecturally mesmerizing skyscraper was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia until 1992, as well as the first building outside the USA to break the 1,000 ft. mark. Designed by the famous sino-american architect I.M.Pei, Bank of China Tower is supported by five steel columns at its corners, and triangular frameworks that zigzag between these columns and transfer the weight of the structure, creating many unique angles that make the tower looks different, when seen from different positions… When its construction was completed, back in the late 1980s, the tower’s sword-like shape was pointing directly at HSBS Main Building and the management of Bank of China was criticized for “cutting” HSBC’s good Feng Shui… Fortunately enough, the Cheung Kong Center was erected in between the two towers and the “Feng Shui conflict” was brought to an end… There is a small observation point on the 43rd floor, that is open to the public, but visits to the main observation deck on the 70th floor are by appointment only.
- The Hong Kong Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery, in Murray Road Multi-storey Car Park Building, opposite Bank of china Tower, showcases the planning and infrastructure projects of the Government of Hong Kong, using interactive displays, touch screens and other hi-tech devices and fun methods… One of the gallery’s main highlights is the “Infrastructure Walk”: An 18.5 meters long 3D-model of Hong Kong with video screens, highlighting different development projects across the territory.