Hong Kong boasts one of the most spectacular cityscapes and skylines in the world. Standing across the water in Kowloon, over Victoria Harbour, anyone can admire these architectural beauties on Hong Kong Island.
if you just moved to Hong Kong, while tourists are busy taking photos of majestic skyline and learning, you should better pick a favourite building or learn their names too, because you will be often using it as reference / meeting point. (We know how easy it is to get lost in this city.) So here’s all the information you need to know about Hong Kong’s modern structures on Hong Kong Island!
Bank of China Tower
Soaring 369 meters into the sky on 1 Garden Road in Central, the Bank of China Tower is one of the world’s tallest buildings. When designing the building, the Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese American architect I.M. Pei (who also designed the glass pyramid outside the Louvre in Paris) wanted to create a structure that would represent the aspirations of the Chinese people yet also symbolize good will towards the British Colony. Pei’s original plans included an X-shaped and prism patterns. However, critics in China have deemed the X shape as a symbol of death, noting its negative Feng Shui. Therefore, Pei opted to use the less threatening diamond forms.
Another symbol used for the fourth tallest building in Hong Kong is the bamboo plant, which symbolizes livelihood and prosperity in Feng Shui. The sectioned masts of the Bank of China Building is inspired by the growth patterns of bamboo.
Lippo Centre is not really visible on the Hong Kong waterfront skyline as they are hidden by the gold-colored Far East Financial Centre but is reputed to be one of the most recognizable structures in the Asia’s World City because of its iconic architecture. The two-tower complex used to be the Bond Centre, built by Australian magnate & Bond Corporation founder Allan Bond and designed by renowned American architect Paul Rudolph. The design of the building with the protruding windows sticking out on the sides is supposed to resemble koalas hugging the building, hence also known as “the Koala tree”.
According to an urban legend, The Bond Centre is supposedly one of the first casualties of the bad Feng Shui vibes from the nearby Bank of China Tower. When it ran into financial troubles, Bold sold the twin towers to the Lippo Group of Indonesia, thus becoming the Lippo Centre.
Two International Finance Center (abbreviated IFC)
The second tallest building in the city (415.8 m / 1,364 ft tall) behind the International Commerce Centre (ICC) in Kowloon, IFC is located above MTR Hong Kong Station at 8 Finance Street, Central. It is a large complex that includes IFC Towers 1 and 2, the IFC mall and the Four Seasons Hotel. Notable tenants include financial and brokerage firms like UBS, Samsung Electronics, Hong Kong Monetary Authority and BNP Paribas. You can also find Hong Kong’s first Apple store and the Airport Express Hong Kong station here.
Located at 1 Connaught Place in Central, the Jardine House (aka Connaught Center) is easily the first building to be noticed. The 178.5 m (586 ft)-tall skyscraper features round windows, as opposed to traditional rectangular windows, for a stronger curtain wall and thinner structural frame. These round windows also earned the building a nickname of “The House of a Thousand Arseholes”. On other interesting note, you can find this building in one of the older Spiderman films.
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
Built on reclaimed land on the Wan Chai waterfront, this is one of Hong Kong’s major exhibition venues. The building underwent a significant extension in 1990s to include one of the world’s largest curved roof structures and was chosen for the handover ceremony in 1997, when Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed over from the UK.
Far East Finance Centre
Far East Finance Centre is a 48-story skyscraper located at 16 Harcourt Road, famous for its notable structures in the city’s skyline because of its shimmering golden hue. Completed in 1982, the high-rise was nicknamed ‘The Amah’s Tooth’ because of its striking colour makes it stand out much like a gold tooth in an old granny’s smile. Tenants include listed companies in finance, accounting and law sector.
The Hong Kong Ferris / Observation Wheel
The Hong Kong Ferris Wheel or Observation Wheel , just a stone-throw away from the Central Star Ferry Pier, is the city’s response to England’s London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. It recently became one of the go-to tourist attractions as it provides some of the best panoramic views in Hong Kong.
The Centre, Central
Completed in 1998 and standing 346 m (1,135 ft) tall, the Centre stands in the ornamental ponds that offer public open space between the busy Queen’s and Des Voeux Roads Central. The building is entirely composed of steel structure and installed a full range of state-of-the-art fittings and equipped raised floors featuring under-floor air-conditioning, Hong Kong’s first automatic gondola and built-in external wall lighting. A viewing platform, bar and restaurant are located at upper ground floor.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building
Built as the British Army’s HQ in 1979, the CPLA building was sited on a narrow stem to dissuade attackers from scaling its water-facing front.
HSBC Main Building
The bank’s fourth consecutive HQ on Queen’s Road, standing at 178.8m (587 ft) tall, was designed by the famed British architect Norman Foster. It is noted as being the most expensive building in the world during the time of completion at HK$5.2 billion (US$668 million) in 1985. Together with Statue Square, the building also serves as a hangout spot for thousands of domestic workers during weekends and holidays.
Home to many international banking and law firms including Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Credit Suisse and various diplomatic consulates, the Exchange Building’s facade features alternating Italian granite and silver reflective glass. More, it is a modular building, meaning it could be dismantled and reassembled somewhere else, which was the plan when they built it in case HSBC needed to relocate back to London or elsewhere. The 188m (617 ft) tall building complex is located in Central, Hong Kong.
Central Plaza, Wan Chai
Central Plaza remains the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world. Soaring 78 floors over Wan Chai, the bright neon rods and night lighting on the top of the tower change colour every 15 minutes after dusk, and its triangular floor plan allows the vast majority of the offices to have harbour views. The tip is to enjoy the view from the 46th floor viewing gallery. Plus, if your phone or watch is out of battery, you can tell the time from its lights.