• Jason Yan

Bank of China Tower

Updated: Jun 20, 2021


Bank of China Tower

Structure: Bank of China Building


Location: Central, Hong Kong


Height: 367.4m


Architect: I. M. Pei


Structural Engineer: Leslie E. Robertson


Main Contractor: Hong Kong Construction (Holdings) Limited; Kumagai Gumi


Photography: Luke Poon and Carsten Chow



Located at No.1 Garden Road in Central, the Bank of China Tower is an iconic masterpiece designed by the world-renowned Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei. Standing 367.4 meters tall, it was the tallest building in Hong Kong from 1989 to 1992. With its deep white lines that outline the building and its four prism-shaped shafts, this tower is highly distinguished by its harmonious blend of modern architecture and traditional Chinese design.



Previously the home to the Murray House, which is now in Stanley, Hong Kong, this plot of land was first sold by the government in August 1982. The Bank of China Tower was initially built by Hong Kong Construction (Holdings) Limited, which then passed on to Japanese contractor Kumagai Gumi who continued with the construction process in May 1986. World-renowned architect I.M. Pei who designed the JFK Presidential Library and the iconic pyramids at the Louvre, incorporated traditional chinese elements and his western flair when he was designing the building. The tower was finally completed five years later in 1990, hence beginning its reign as the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia until 1992.



The Bank of China Tower stands out and makes the surrounding dull office towers look feeble and incomparable. Even from a distance, you are immediately entranced by the huge sharp white columns that extend the full length of the building, the triangular pattern that is duplicated on the sides, as well as the domineering white spire that shoots towards the sky. Upon arrival, you are greeted with the beautiful waterfalls and gardens on each side of the building. These gardens are the pure design of the architect I.M. Pei, who wanted to create a ‘paradise’ within the city.



A key issue for I.M. Pei was the symbolism of the structure for the Chinese people and the British Colony. Original plans included an x-shaped cross-brace. However, in China the "X" shape is seen as a symbol of death. As an alternative, Pei chose to use less menacing diamond forms.


The bamboo plant was also a significant inspiration for this unique building. The ‘trunk’ of this massive structure is a representation of the growth patterns of bamboo plants, symbolizing hope and revitalization in the Chinese culture.



Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I. M. Pei, while visually striking as an architecture design, the tower is also an engineering breakthrough. Through the use of an enormous version of a conventional three-dimensional truss as the basic structure (above and opposite), stress is transferred to the four corners of the building, making it far more stable than it would have been if built according to the traditional column-and-beam method.


Rising majestically among other buildings, the Bank of China Tower commands a sweeping view of the Victoria Harbour. The tower has not only played a vital role in Hong Kong’s economic development but also contributed to its stability and prosperity, and it will surely continue to stand tall and guide the economy to a brighter future.



References

  1. About BOC Tower: About us: BOCHK. About us | Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. (n.d.). https://www.bochk.com/en/aboutus/corpprofile/boctower.html

  2. Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, March 26). Bank of China Tower (Hong Kong). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_China_Tower_(Hong_Kong)

  3. Pagnotta, B. (2011, August 23). AD Classics: AD Classics: Bank of China Tower / I.M. Pei. ArchDaily. https://www.archdaily.com/153297/ad-classics-bank-of-china-tower-i-m-pei