Hong Kong picks Foster for $2.8 billion arts hub
British architect Norman Foster has won the contract to design Hong Kong's HK$21.6 billion ($2.8 billion) arts hub, nine years after triumphing with an earlier plan that was later scrapped.
Foster and Partners' "City Park" design for the 40-hectare (100-acre) West Kowloon cultural district was Friday chosen over two other plans by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas's OMA and Hong Kong's Rocco Yim.
Plans to build the giant arts hub on the reclaimed harbour front were first announced in 1998 by then Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa.
Foster in February 2002 won a competition to design the project but his controversial design which featured a vast canopy covering half the site was scrapped in 2005 and the government started over.
The award-winning architect's new plan includes a 19-hectare wooded park and 40 percent of the total site will be designated for arts and cultural facilities.
Foster's design proved the most popular with the public according to a poll.
"The public's voice now is loud and clear, that is, move on and get the job done," Hong Kong Chief Secretary Henry Tang said Friday as he announced the winner.
"Now that we have picked the plan, it's time for us all to work together, press ahead and develop the cultural district as the public expect."
Tang said the "City Park" design was "noted for its vibrancy and diversity as well as the flexibility in phased development of art and cultural facilities."
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2015. The entire scheme is scheduled to finish in 2031.
Celebrated for his ambitious glass and steel designs, Foster's projects have included the Chek Lap Kok international airport and futuristic HSBC headquarters in Hong Kong, the restoration of the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, the Swiss Re "Gherkin" in London and the dramatic Millau Viaduct in France.
Bernard Lim, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, said Foster's plan was the safest choice for the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.
"The design by the Dutch team is too visionary and difficult for the authority with the absence of its CEO," he told the South China Morning Post, referring to the surprise departure of authority head Graham Sheffield in January.
Tang said elements and features from the other two designs could be incorporated into Foster's plan following a public consultation.
© 2011 AFP