AIA Hong Kong, the largest international chapter of the American Institute of Architects, celebrated a milestone on Thursday, 21 August, with the grand opening of its first permanent office since Nelson Chen, FAIA, founded the Chapter in 1997 – the same year that the formerly British colony became the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Located in the newly renovated and repurposed PMQ Complex straddling Central District’s Hollywood Road and Staunton Street, AIA Hong Kong hosted more than 150 Chapter members, corporate affiliates and guests on an expansive terrace that was once a communal kitchen and dining area for young constables and their families. The terraced, 0.6 hectare PMQ site was previously home to Central School (a.k.a. Victoria College and later Queen’s College) – Hong Kong’s first Government public school to provide secondary Western education – before the PMQ was established, and informative guided walking tours of the school’s foundations and other architectural remnants were provided prior to the opening celebration.
Providing housing for Hong Kong’s married police officers for the latter half of the 20th century until 2000 when the facility was vacated, Government surveys and investigations of this historic site subsequently revealed noteworthy architecture attributed to the “modern movement,” archaeologically significant granite retaining walls and steps, and more than 2,000 relics ranging from fragments of encaustic ceramic tiles with formed patterns to historic stone foundations from the former Central School. After the existing structures were designated as Grade 3 Historic Buildings by the Government Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) in 2010, the entire site was earmarked for adaptive reuse by the Government Architectural Services Department (ASD) and it became the new hub for Hong Kong’s creative and design industries in early 2014.
AIA Hong Kong is proud to be situated on a site of architectural and archaeological significance, and to serve as a founding tenant within a successful adaptive reuse project that is consistent with today’s international best practices.
As one of AIA Hong Kong’s best attended events, the Chapter wishes to extend their gratitude to everyone who braved the hot and humid August evening to help us celebrate, and to Chapter Corporate Affiliates Orientop, Betrue and Thicas who generously sponsored the grand opening party. Thanks are also due to William Lim, FAIA, Christian Low, AIA, and J Lee Rofkind, AIA, who spearheaded the effort to secure space for the Chapter in this popular development, in addition to Andrew King, Assoc. AIA, Brian Bessenaire, Assoc. AIA, Kenneth Hau, AIA and J Lee Rofkind, AIA, who were responsible for the design of the premises.
Special thanks are also due to Chapter Executive Secretaries Catherine Wong and Vivian Chan for their continuing hard work and dedication, and, finally, to one of the Chapter’s founding fathers, Grover Dear, FAIA, who made a widely anticipated appearance at this milestone event despite recent personal challenges.
Reflecting upon how the Chapter has grown over the past 17 years — and where it is going – AIA Hong Kong also wishes to thank the many Past Presidents who have carved out space in their own humble offices to serve the Chapter’s administrative needs from 1997 until now.
Finally, we have a permanent home!
AIA Hong Kong members who attended one of the PMQ Walking Tours prior to the Grand Opening Party also received 1.0 LU toward their annual mandatory AIA Continuing Education requirements.
Please note the Chapter’s new address below — and please stop in for a visit when you’re in the neighborhood!
AIA Hong Kong
S602 | Block A | PMQ
35 Aberdeen Street
Central | Hong Kong SAR
Contributor: Thomas Schmidt, AIA