new york + hong kong: hong kong at 15

© arup - the asia society's new home by tod williams billie tsien architects

in 1997 british rule over hong kong ended and the territory's sovereignty was transferred to china. in the fifteen years since the handover, the newly established hong kong special administrative region has been governed under a principle known as one country two systems. initially a colony of refugees, and later a hub for global business and trade, the city is still very much in transition, and is now forging a new urban identity as a chinese city with unique set of characteristics. fueled by a famously free economy, and taking full advantage of its position as a gateway to booming people's republic, hong kong has continued to grow over the past 15 years. although constrained by a geography of steep islands and narrow peninsulas, the city’s architects and engineers have produced increasingly sophisticated solutions to accommodating extreme density with innovative architecture and infrastructure, expanding the public realm into three dimensions. at the same time, groups advocating for improved quality of life, greater community participation in the decisions that affect the environment, and increased efforts to preserve the city’s cultural heritage, have sought to define hong kong through the civic engagement of its citizens.

as such, it's very much public space that has become the stage on which hong kong’s new identity will emerge. american architects have designed signature buildings in the city before the handover, notably such as i.m. pei’s iconic bank of china tower. in these past 15 years, the participation of american firms and partnerships with local architects resulted in valuable professional and cultural exchanges. opening mon - dec 10 [7pm] at the aiany center for architecture [1] is hong kong at 15 - redefining the public realm, an exhibition that features three projects by new york-based architecture practices pelli clarke pelli, kohn pedersen fox and tod williams billie tsien that were all completed after the 1997 handover. they represent the diverse ways in which this dynamic city has expanded the public realm. the exhibition is co-presented with aiahk in hong kong, and on tue - dec 11 [8.30am] a related presentation and exhibition, featuring commissioned photography by hong kong-based photographer ah hung of the three aforementioned projects, will open at the asia society [2]. location [1]: 536 laguardia place [noho]. location [2]: 9 justice drive [admiralty].

© dennis lau + ng chun man architects - the soaring hysan place building by kohn pedersen fox