Oculus - Spring 2013 - (Page 32)
Green Retail in the
Sky: Hong Kong’s
KPF’s new mixed-use tower in Causeway Bay
contributes to new senses of contextual design
amidst commerce, congestion, and climate
BY BILL MILLARD
he design of civic space is critical to life on crowded Hong Kong island,
says Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) Design Principal Robert C.
Whitlock, AIA. The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and a network of public
walkways and escalators allow fluid, diverse transport. Citizens spend much
time in malls and other public spaces. This is particularly true in the Causeway Bay district – the world’s most expensive, says Cushman & Wakefield’s
“Main Streets Across the World” report, overtaking New York’s Fifth Avenue.
As the Skyscraper Museum’s 2008–2010 “Vertical Cities” exhibition and conference pointed out, Hong Kong now out-Manhattans Manhattan in density,
high-rise construction, and transit efficiency.
A new commercial project spectacularly mixes often-adversarial impulses:
public space, sustainability, shopping, and offices. Last August, KPF announced the opening of a 36-story, 710,000-square-foot tower that places a
Neo-Miesian box of Grade A office space atop a 17-floor retail base. Hysan
Place, Hong Kong’s first building to attain Platinum LEED-CS certification, is
a verdant icon whose sky gardens, volumes, and voids link skyline and street.
Hysan Place realizes KPF’s third design for this site in Lee Gardens, a
hotel/shopping district at the center of Causeway Bay, controlled by local firm
Hysan Development since the 1920s. KPF won a competition in 2001 with an
office-dominated design, then revised it twice, responding to changes in zoning (favoring more retail and public space) and corporate leadership.
The final design revision reflects the late Hysan Chairman Peter Lee’s green
commitment. Whitlock quotes Lee’s early instructions: “I do not really know
much about architecture, but my feeling is that we really need to be setting
an example, and this building should somehow make its environment better
through its presence...The building should make the air fresher on Hennessy
Road,” which the development fronts. KPF and its engineers accomplished
this with a design that literally stirs the air.
Convertibility, convection, context
“Most single-use buildings are simply extruded,” Whitlock says, “based on
the best plan for that typology. But when you start mixing, you find a way
to use the ideal-size floorplate for each of those uses.” In the base, a traditional mall space surrounds a central atrium. Three major apertures cut
into the volume: a fourth-floor sky garden, an open commercial area at the
seventh and eighth floors, and an “urban window” at floors 12 through 15.
Hong Kong allows buildings with 30% of the area of a floor opened up as a
public sky garden to transfer the floor area to revenue-generating space on a
higher floor; Hysan Place’s openings reduce the building’s bulk visually, while
providing outdoor food, beverage, and public-event spaces. “A concern that
Oculus Spring 2013
The sky gardens, stepping forms, setbacks, and voids in the
36-story Hysan Place tower visually reduce the building's bulk; it
is Hong Kong’s ﬁrst building to achieve Platinum LEED-CS.
maybe the building didn’t look retail enough from
the main street,” Whitlock notes, led to the addition of a theatrical feature: long exterior express
escalators with clear glazing.
A “semi-retail zone” above the lobby and below
four food/beverage floors anticipates possible program changes. “If a building is perfectly designed
for one use,” Whitlock observes, “and then 25 years
later nobody’s using that any more, you potentially have to redevelop the building.” Like SoHo
lofts, which have served multiple functions over
the decades, the semi-retail zone is convertible
to offices; its larger floorplates can handle special
uses such as trading floors. Alternatively, it accommodates retail when that sector is prospering.
The Taiwan-based bookstore Eslite occupies three
floors and is packed to overflowing 24 hours a day.
In Hysan Place’s office component, a south-side
core shields the sun and allows core-to-perimeter
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Spring 2013
Letter from the Editor
Center for Architecture
One Block Over
Opener: Sandy’s Watery Wake-up Call
Global Waterfronts: Green Growth, Great Rivers, and Port Cities
Civics in a Shaky Paradise
Where Nature Meets Modernity
Green Retail in the Sky: Hong Kong’s Hysan Place
Flows and Ripples: Shanghai Cultural Square
Index to Advertisers
Oculus - Spring 2013