• Carsten Chow

International Commerce Centre (ICC)

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

ICC and Union Square

Structure: International Commerce Centre (ICC)

Location: West Kowloon, Hong Kong

Height: 484m

Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) in association with Wong & Ouyang

Structural Engineer: Arup

Photography: Luke Poon and Carsten Chow

International Commerce Centre

Standing 484 meter tall, the International Commerce Centre, or more commonly known as the ICC, is the centrepiece of the Union Square Development which was completed in 2010. The ICC was the third tallest building in the world at the time of its completion in 2010, and is now the 12th tallest in the world. The building houses the highest hotel in the world, the Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong, which occupies the top 16 floors of the complex, and has the highest bar and pool in the world as well. Being the tallest building in Hong Kong, the ICC also has a few world famous tenants, including Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Natixis.

The Union Square Development was commissioned during the Airport Core Programme which consisted of the Hong Kong International Airport and the International Finance Centre Development. In the early 1990s, the Airport Core Programme was conceived to build a larger airport for the city of Hong Kong. In the programme, 10 major projects were planned, one of which was the West Kowloon Land Reclamation Project. The West Kowloon Land Reclamation Project, which added 30% land space to the Kowloon Peninsula, allowed for residential complexes, hotel buildings and the West Kowloon Train Terminus to be built. One of which was the International Commerce Centre.

Consisting of 118 storeys, the ICC is definitely one of the most majestic buildings in Asia. From far away, the building looks as if it has a square base but when seen up close, you can see that the building actually has a ‘cross-shaped’ base. This definitely increases the window area of the building, and also increases the amount of natural light that enters the office and hotel space. The building juts out in the center floors to give it a little more edge and variation when compared with other ‘squarish’ base buildings like the late one and two World Trade Centre in Manhattan.

Entering the building from the massive Elements mall that is part of the Union Square Development, you can see the stunning jagged fins descending from the 7 story high ceiling. The fin allows for massive amounts of sunlight to enter the mall and illuminate the marble floor below. At the centre of the airy atrium, are 3 escalators that seemingly lift hotel occupants and office tenants escalators into the core of the building where you can see floors and floors of lifts that shuttle workers up and down the building. The connection of the mall and the ICC Building is very seamless and allows for the building to give a staggered effect which can be seen from the mall below.

The building is home to an intelligent and efficient lift system which was designed by Schindler’s Lifts (Hong Kong), 58 lifts shuttle tenants up and down the concrete shafts, of which 40 are double deckered. Going up at a speed of 5-9 meters per second, they are indeed one of the fastest lifts in the world.

Also part of the ICC building is the Elements mall which spans over 1 million square foot. The building is very well connected, being only minutes away from the West Kowloon Train Terminus, which allows visitors and tenants to travel across the border to China within an hour. The building is also adjacent to Tsim Sha Tsui and is just 1 subway stop away from Central, the central business district of Hong Kong. The ICC building is also home to one of the largest LED Light shows in the world, depicting different pictures, videos and even the time for everyone in Hong Kong to see during the nighttime.

Seemingly guarding the Victoria Harbour with the International Finance Centre (IFC) in Central, the International Commerce Centre is an important landmark in Hong Kong and will surely be such for the years to come.



  1. Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, April 21). International Commerce Centre. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Commerce_Centre

  2. International Commerce Centre. ICC. (n.d.). https://shkp-icc.com/eng/main/building/building-facts.html

  3. International Commerce Centre by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). KPF. (n.d.). https://www.kpf.com/projects/international-commerce-centre

  4. The tallest building in Hong Kong. Arup. (n.d.). https://www.arup.com/projects/international-commerce-center-hong-kong