August 3, 2010
by: Kinshasa Peterson

Event: Hong Kong: Architectural and Urban Perspectives
Location: Center for Architecture, 06.29.10
Speakers: Tunney Lee — Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies + Planning, Emeritus, MIT; James von Klemperer, FAIA — Principal, Kohn Pedersen Fox; Anthony Vacchione, AIA — Managing Principal, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Moderator: George Melas, AIA, LEED AP — AIANY Global Dialogues Committee. A Q&A session closing the discussion was contributed to by Leslie Robertson, Dist.M.ASCE and SawTeen See, Dist.M.ASCE of Leslie E. Robertson Associates
Organizer: AIANY Global Dialogues Committee


Hong Kong Skyline.


In a metropolis that seeks new pathways for expansion, urban design in Hong Kong is currently addressing historical and contemporary approaches to housing, transportation, and open space.

Hong Kong emerged as a trading hub in the British Empire due to its location and harbor, said Tunney Lee giving an historic perspective. Known as “the best deep water port between Singapore and Yokohama,” Hong Kong rapidly grew as a manufacturing center. The corresponding upsurge in land use was achieved by cutting into hilly terrain and infilling surrounding bays. Design of residential stock progressed from low-rise units, typical of construction in the 1950s-1970s, to high-rise developments first built in the 1980s and continuing through today. Residential towers were thoroughly integrated with transportation and retail.

Anthony Vacchione, AIA, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, provided an overview of his firm’s work in the region. Involved in civic projects, such as the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, as well as master planning and design services for the Hong Kong International Airport, Vacchione indicated that transportation functions are “key to global prominence and competitiveness.” A SkyCity proposed for the airport was designed with the intent to create a 24-hour district in the environs of a terminal. The array of uses contained therein would consist of hotel, office, and retail.

Kohn Pedersen Fox is examining elements of Hong Kong’s transportation system as a network of elevated walkways that could provide a locus for activity above ground level, said Principal James von Klemperer, FAIA. Two mixed-use projects — the International Commerce Center in Hong Kong and Ping An Center in Shenzhen — are sited above rail stations. Designs for other projects, such as the Hong Kong Sanatorium + Hospital, incorporate a vertically stacked program to enhance efficiency.

Kinshasa Peterson is the director of marketing at Leslie E. Robertson Associates. She is also a writer and member of the AIANY Global Dialogues Committee.


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