Internationally renowned Bing Thom Architects has been chosen to lead the design of the University of Chicago’s Center in Hong Kong, which will be the home of the relocated Chicago Booth Asia Executive MBA Program and other University programs.
With offices in Hong Kong and Vancouver, Bing Thom Architects was selected from an international pool of 12 firms. The Architect Selection Committee — led by Chicago Booth Dean Sunil Kumar and including trustees, faculty and University officials — cited the firm’s international experience, sensitivity to heritage, familiarity with Hong Kong and commitment to supporting the University’s academic programs.
“We are delighted to have in Bing Thom a highly celebrated and visionary architect to design our center at Mount Davis, the new home for the Chicago Booth Asia Executive MBA Program,” Kumar said. “With a breadth of experience in designing award-winning cultural and institutional projects worldwide, including Hong Kong, Bing Thom has a particular understanding of the local culture and history of the site. We are confident that Bing Thom will design a world-class, iconic, and truly functional building.”
Incoming students of the Booth Asia Executive MBA Program will start classes in an interim facility at Cyberport in Hong Kong in September 2014, while current cohorts will continue at the Singapore campus until they graduate in 2014 and 2015. Work on the new Hong Kong center, site of the former Victoria Road Detention Centre on Mount Davis, is scheduled to begin in October 2014.
The Hong Kong government granted the University the site on the island’s westernmost hill conditionally, through a competitive land-grant process. The land grant is subject to accreditation, town planning, and preservation approval. The heritage site originally was a military encampment for the British Army in the 1940s, then later was a detention center — a juxtaposition of history and memory that requires sensitivity to the area’s cultural past.
“It is a beautiful and unusually challenging site — a unique oasis with the dense urban fabric of Hong Kong. The richness of this site comes not just from its physical and natural beauty, but also from its past uses. The design must show a deep appreciation for the remnants and rooted memories of that history,” says Thom, founding partner of Bing Thom Architects.
Bing Thom Architects has led projects in Canada, Europe and China, as well as the recent Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C. The firm also has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2010 Architectural Firm Award from The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and in 2011, Bing Thom received the RAIC Gold Medal, Canada’s most prestigious architectural honor.
“Bing Thom Architects is a highly acclaimed and innovative firm know for grounding civic buildings to their sites, while connecting them to a larger cultural context,” said Steve Wiesenthal, Senior Associate Vice President for Facilities Services and Campus Architect. “The team assigned to this project is passionate about engaging with the academic program we seek to support, balancing new ideas with thoughtful strategies for stewardship of the site.”
For 13 years, Chicago Booth has run a successful campus in Singapore that serves as the Asia platform for the school’s Executive MBA Program. The decision to relocate the program while maintaining a robust presence in Singapore followed months-long deliberations and input from the Chicago Booth community and reflected the school’s commitment to broadening its impact on management thought, practice and education across the globe.
The creation of a Center in Hong Kong will contribute to the University’s engagement in China and more broadly in Asia, complementing the growing opportunities for research collaborations and learning at the Center in Beijing and recently announced Center in Delhi.
“A Center in Hong Kong will help us support our scholars and students who want to work in Asia, often in conversation with their counterparts from around the world,” said Ian Solomon, Vice President for Global Engagement. “By entrusting Bing Thom Associates with the design for this important site, we are ensuring that this facility will be tailored to those learning and research efforts, and in keeping with the University’s growing global presence.”