Location: Central, Hong Kong
Height: 346 m
Architect: Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (HK) Ltd.
Main Contractor: Paul & - ITC Construction
Standing with a height of 346 meters at 99 Queen’s Road, Central, The Center is the fifth tallest skyscraper ever built in Hong Kong. The building itself comprises of two square prisms offset by 45 degrees, which people call an octagonal star design. Because of its height and spectacular exterior, it has become one of the landmarks in Hong Kong.
One of the most unique aspects of the building lies in its structure. A lot of high-rise buildings tend to use a reinforced concrete core for its construction, essentially a tube which supports its height and to provide increasing stability, strengthening its structure to stand the test of time. The Center, however, is a freestanding steel structure, considered a rarity in today’s architecture since most buildings have a composite structure to help maintain its sturdiness. A freestanding steel structure must not be supported by guy wires (a tensioned cable), and must be made from steel only. Other examples of buildings using this structure include Tokyo Skytree in Japan, Bullwinkle Platform in the USA, and Harmony Platform in South Korea.
Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s busiest areas, and surrounded by dense construction, the building specifically allowed for many entrances enhancing pedestrian accessibility, and created novel open spaces for public use. Its extensive perimeter of the octagonal shape also allows more daylight to flood the extensive perimeter of the building than would be offered by a similarly sized building with a rectangular floor plate.
The interior of the building is also allocated and designed to provide versatile, equal spaces for all the people. Split into eight sections of offices in a flower-like pattern, the octagonal shape would prove to be well utilized such that spaces like the pointy edges are not being put to waste.
The Center is also known for its decorative neon lights on its exterior. They are arranged as bars in increasing frequency towards the top of the building, which slowly scroll through the colors of the spectrum at night. During the Christmas season, the building's neon arrangement follows a festive motif and resembles a Christmas tree.
As one of the key buildings involved in the urban redevelopment project, The Center provides a change to the old environment, but is also an example of purposeful and functional design catering for the changing surroundings and heavy urban restructuring of the city.