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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Exhibition in Festival Walk


Wan Chai with HKCEC in the foreground

Proposed Art Museum in Tamar Site, Admiralty

Main Entrance

From Above

Proposed Renovated Cultural Centre :)

HK Contextual Model

1,429 Posts
Etheren, this particular design by Frank Ghery was already rejected by gov last year. Only 3 designs remain for the final bidding. Construction will start in 2007.

btw, that cultural center re-design look cool!

139,525 Posts
I wonder how viable it is to build several arts centers around Hong Kong to make full use of the proposals, or whether they would want to compete with each other?

139,525 Posts
Swire re-enters culture fight
Sylvia Hui, Hong Kong Standard
March 04, 2005

Swire wants to show Frank Gehry's design as part of its 'cultural harbor vision', involving facilities across West Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai.

Renewed public debate and increased pressure on the government to rethink the West Kowloon project are expected next week when an eliminated bidder reveals an alternative vision of a museum complex by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.

The design, proposed for the prime Tamar site in Admiralty, was commissioned by Swire Properties last May and will go on public display despite the government's rejection of Swire's proposal for West Kowloon late last year.

Swire's proposal for the HK$40 billion cultural project was rejected because it includes no canopy and places the required cultural facilities outside West Kowloon.

The 76-year-old Canadian architect, best known for his design of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, will unveil the plan himself when he visits Hong Kong next Friday. From next Saturday, Gehry's design and Swire's proposals will be displayed as models in Pacific Place for public comment.

The move comes just two weeks before public consultation and exhibitions of the three shortlisted West Kowloon proposals come to an end at City Hall.

"Gehry does not say yes to every offer of commission or every site," said Gordon Ongley, director and general manager of Swire Properties. "We have the possibility of having the only Gehry building in Asia - we want to make a statement.

"If the complex is built with the right design on the right site it doesn't have to be enormous," he said, referring to the proposed concentration of museums and performance venues on 40 hectares of reclaimed land in West Kowloon. He said Swire's move will pressure the government to re-examine its approach involving a controversial, mandatory and expensive canopy and a requirement that a single developer control the entire project for 30 years.

Ongley insisted the Swire presentation is not meant to provoke "embarrassment or confrontation with the government."

"We have had overwhelming support for our proposal from the groups we've consulted," he said. "It's a credible alternative and the public should be able to consider it."

Swire is not expecting government officials to attend the exhibition's opening ceremony next Friday.

Ongley said Swire's "cultural harbor vision", which spreads cultural facilities across West Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai, allows for more flexibility because any one of the facilities could be built separately and more than one developer could handle the projects.

Gehry's museum could be finished three years ahead of the time required by the Invitation for Proposals, he said.

The Tamar museum complex is envisioned to be 0.5 million square feet, 1.5 times the size of Gehry's museum in Bilbao.

It would be complemented by a large park built on reclaimed land in Central and new theatres in Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui, but the existing Space Museum and the Museum of Art would be "taken away."

West Kowloon would house a stadium, hotels and six million square feet of 30-story residential space.

Ongley was vocal in his criticism of government plans for West Kowloon, saying Swire did not play by the rules because it could not accept the "high-risk principle of locating a large number of cultural facilities in a new district."

He also said the proposed Foster-designed canopy is not sustainable and "serves no real and practical purpose."

397 Posts

139,525 Posts
Hong Kong arts centre a battleground for world's top architects

HONG KONG, March 24 (AFP) - As Hong Kong seeks a spectacular new landmark to add to its famous skyline, the city has become a design battleground where the world's greatest architects are striving to make their mark with a visionary arts and performance centre.

American Frank Gehry and Argentinean Cesar Pelli were both in the southern Chinese enclave last week to marshal their forces in a bidding war for a project already outline-designed by Britain's Lord Norman Foster.

The three heavyweights, who between them have created some of the world's most striking modern structures, are keen not only for the riches the 40-hectare West Kowloon Cultural District will offer the winner, they want a piece of the prestige it is expected to accrue.

"This is an incredible opportunity that goes way beyond what any other city has done," Pelli, 78, told AFP in an exclusive interview. "Every city has a golden age -- Hong Kong's is about to happen."

The hub project will be huge, with some estimates putting its cost at some 40 billion US dollars.

Carved out of a spit of reclaimed land across Hong Kong's famous harbour from the towering downtown, the Foster-created outline envisages theatres, a stadium, exhibition and museum space as well as parkland and a giant open-air piazza.

Most ambitious of all they are to be housed beneath a kilometre-long 40-hectare undulating roof that will not only shield the district from the city's unremitting tropical climate but also provide an iconic landmark to project Hong Kong's image all over the world.

The winning bidder will be allowed to finance the project by selling associated commercial and residential plots in return for a guarantee it run the public cultural facilities, at a loss if necessary, for 30 years.

The rush to be part of Hong Kong's cultural future is so heated that it even led to a spat between the Guggenheim and Pompidou, giants of the art museum world, who are being touted as possible tenants.

Among other big-name artistic institutions keen to get a foothold in the hub are the British National Theatre and France's Musee D'Orsay.

But for all the developers talk of a golden age, the scheme has locally become a political hot potato. Many political parties oppose the government's insistence it be built by a single developer and arts groups have objected to big property companies controlling the city's cultural infrastructure.

A consultation exercise has been extended twice to accommodate the huge public interest in the project and bidding developers are privately resigned to the government missing the summer deadline when it is supposed to announce the winning design.

But Pelli, whose soaring creations include Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers -- once the world's tallest buildings -- and East London's Canary Wharf, said the project had fired the imagination of the world's greatest designers.

"Hong Kong has this incredible energy," said the Argentinean, commissioned to design a four-theater performance complex for the hub.

"I just love to walk the streets more so than in any other part of the world."

Gehry, 76, has been equally effusive about the former British colony.

"Hong Kong is a wonderful and vibrant and exciting place," he told the South China Morning Post. "I have never seen anywhere like it. Perhaps Manhattan, but it is not quite the same."

The American is probably most famous for designing the angular homes for the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, Spain.

His design for a museum complex in Hong Kong recalls the boxy shape of the Bilbao structure but is unlikely to get past the planning stage; it was commissioned by the Swire Group, a British-based company that failed to make the tender shortlist for refusing to confine its proposal to the plot of earmarked land.

Swire hired Gehry to lend weight to its campaign to have the tender reopened.

Gehry has been less than enthusiastic about the canopy plan. Proposed by Foster, for whom it won design awards, Gehry said it was an idea the British master has rehashed from a 1960s idea of legendary designer Buckminster Fuller.

"Fuller had an idea to build a canopy that stretched over one mile, but subsequent versions of the canopy became less and less powerful," he was quoted as telling the Post.

Foster is highly respected in Hong Kong where his relatively squat HSBC headquarters is one of the most outstanding buildings in a city defined by its gravity-defying skyscrapers and the airport he built has won the city countless design awards.

Many architects here say his canopy is unworkable, however. As such its very inclusion in the tender proposal has become a point of heated debate.

Gehry's backers Swire have argued against building one and another bidder who made the shortlist has come up with an alternative network of mini canopies.

Pelli is fully behind it and says it will make Hong Kong's culture hub the world's leading venue.

"I wouldn't say it is necessary but it will give a very strong image -- it will make this grouping of facilities far more unique and make it much more of a destination.

"It will create a memory of Hong Kong that you can carry with you -- you have those memories even if you have never been there," he said.

Canopy or not, a cultural hub will be built and the bidding companies are spending fortunes to make sure they win the tender.

Swire said it had spent 30 million Hong Kong dollars -- about 3.75 million US dollars -- on its design before it even thought of flying in Gehry.

A bidding consortium led by rival Henderson Land, which commissioned Pelli, will not reveal how much it has sunk into its proposal but a senior project manager hinted it had paid far more than its British rival.

Even less is known of the costing of a bid by a consortium consisting of Hong Kong's two biggest developers Cheung Kong and Sun Hung Kai.

They will reveal no figures but as an indication the consortium has hired the Pompidou Centre and the Guggenheim as partners and is believed to have footed a two million US dollar bill for flying in from Paris Picasso's giant "Parade" masterpiece for a month-long display here last year.

It also recently caused uproar when it flew a string of reporters to Paris, London and New York to observe other museums at work.

Pubescent Singaporean
570 Posts
oh when they say hongkong is entering another golden age i always think of the golden age during the 80s-90s, when hk entertainment was at its most influential, and inspired eras of fans all over Asia. HK is just bonafide lah.

139,525 Posts
Some context :

Guggenheim chief retains global vision
By Carol Vogel The New York Times
FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2005

NEW YORK Sitting in his small Manhattan office after returning from Russia recently, Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim Museum, was flashing images, graphs and numbers from a laptop onto a flat-screen television. He was consumed by what he had seen in Russia, where he met with officials from the Kremlin Museum, as well as the deputy minister of culture, to negotiate loans for "Russia!" - a major exhibition that will fill the entire Fifth Avenue Guggenheim Museum when it opens in September.

He described the wide range of treasures he hoped to borrow and the exhibition's enormous cost: about $4 million, approximately what the Metropolitan Museum of Art spent to mount its blockbuster Byzantium exhibition last year. He said $2 million of the show's cost was being paid by the charitable foundation run by Vladimir Potanin, president and chairman of one of the largest private Russian conglomerates and a member of the Guggenheim board. Krens was fascinated by the freewheeling spirit of Russia's new generation of capitalists.

"Russia in the 21st century has the largest concentration of natural resources around the world," Krens said. "I've never felt such a concentration of money. It's a boom town," he said of Moscow, "as close to Las Vegas as anything I've seen. The entrepreneurial energy is enormous."

A few weeks ago, three months after triumphing in a "him or me" showdown with Peter Lewis, then the Guggenheim chairman, who demanded he stay focused on New York, the unchastened Krens took off for Mexico City with a delegation of board members, including the new chairman and president. Their purpose was to meet with President Vicente Fox about a possible Guggenheim satellite in Guadalajara. The museum is also in talks with Singapore.

Such developments were at the heart of Lewis's objections and subsequent resignation in January. Lewis, the museum's biggest benefactor (during his 11 years on the board, he gave the Guggenheim about $77 million, nearly four times as much as any other board member in the museum's history), walked away, saying the museum should concentrate on housekeeping at home rather than opening more Guggenheims around the world.

But Krens, 58, whose reputation as a motorcycle-mad, globe-trotting visionary unconcerned about costs has made him the talk of the art world, doesn't seem much changed since that three-hour meeting in January. Asked where his priorities are now - home or abroad - he said, "both."

The key to his business plan is hiring big-name architects to design buildings that will become tourist destinations in themselves, like the Guggenheim's Frank Lloyd Wright building in New York or its Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. And though the museum's new leaders express caution about the budget, they share Krens's vision.

At a cocktail party last week to celebrate the museum's new chairman, William Mack, a real estate developer, and its first female president, Jennifer Stockman, Stockman talked of "bringing art and culture to cities around the world."

Mack, the founder of Apollo Real Estate Advisers and chairman of the Mack-Cali Realty, a real estate investment trust, emphasized that the Guggenheim was and always would be an international presence: "It is an international museum whose home is in New York."

No one questions the success of the Guggenheim Bilbao, which has been attracting more than 900,000 visitors a year since it opened in 1997, or even the recently expanded Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice which attracted 350,000 last year, 50,000 more than in 2003.

But some board members - a defeated minority who decline to be quoted but say they believe the success of these satellites are exceptions - argue that the Guggenheim has no business trying to spread its name any further when there is so much work to be done at home.

Attendance at the Guggenheim plummeted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as it did at all museums in New York City. But for the Guggenheim, the drop was particularly serious. Because so many of its visitors are tourists who come especially to see the building, a month after the attacks, admissions were down almost 60 percent and revenue was about half of what it was supposed to be. About one-fifth of its staff had been laid off. It was also forced to delay the opening of its branch in Las Vegas, and when it did open, only one portion survived: the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, which is jointly run with the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and plans its exhibitions in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The Guggenheim's SoHo branch in Manhattan also closed in 2001.

Slowly, the museum has been making its way back, partly through the success of its satellites, which also include a Guggenheim in Berlin.

Krens said he was constantly approached by cities wanting to share in the so-called Bilbao effect. Besides Guadalajara - to be designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, the Mexican architect Enrique Norten or Asymptote Architects in Manhattan - and Singapore, other outposts under consideration include one in Rio de Janeiro, also designed by Nouvel; a Hong Kong museum that would be part of a larger development designed by Lord Norman Foster; and a collaboration with the Hermitage in St. Petersburg on an extension of the Hermitage with a Guggenheim component.

There are financial advantages to opening Guggenheims around the world. Cities that approach the Guggenheim about building a museum can expect to spend $150 million to $200 million, including land and construction, Anthony Calnek, a Guggenheim spokesman, said.

The host city or country would also be expected to set aside funds every year to buy art; Bilbao, for example, spends $10 million annually on acquisitions and must subsidize operating deficits and pay a licensing fee. The Guggenheim Foundation also works with partners in buying and commissioning art. In Berlin, Deutsche Bank has commissioned works by artists like James Rosenquist, Jeff Koons and Gerhard Richter, which the bank owns 50-50 with the Guggenheim. Museum officials say that they hope that the Guggenheim Bilbao will buy back Deutsche Bank's share.

Krens defends himself against accusations of overspending and neglecting acquisitions and programming. He will probably be forever haunted by the critical ridicule of shows like "The Art of the Motorcycle" in 1998 and "Giorgio Armani" in 2000, even though they drew enthusiastic crowds.

"These perceptions are hard to dislodge," Krens said. He rattled off several historic exhibitions that rank among the 10 best attended shows in the Guggenheim's history: "Africa: The Art of a Continent," in 1996; "China: 5,000 Years," in 1998, "Brazil: Body & Soul," in 2001; and "The Aztec Empire," which closed in February. He named some major retrospectives: those of Claes Oldenburg, Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roni Horn and Matthew Barney.

And Krens still hopes for another Gehry-designed Guggenheim in Manhattan.
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