The Skyscraper Museum
Hong Kong
The Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.


July 16, 2008 through June 2009

This is the second exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

[DOWNLOAD Press Release]

CLICK HERE for a Virtual Walkthrough of the exhibit.

CLICK HERE for information on the related October conference

Hong Kong and New York are the world's iconic vertical metropolises. Both island cities with perfect harbors, they evolved from colonial ports into dominant centers of international finance and commerce. As they grew, each embraced the skyscraper as the principal instrument of modern urbanism.

Building on the work of the exhibition New York Modern which showcased New York's emergence in the twenties as the preeminent skyscraper city, Vertical Cities examined the parallels during two major development booms and defining moments in the vertical identity of each city: New York in the 1920s and 1960s and Hong Kong in the mid-1980s-1990s and today. During these periods, each city grew rapidly to its peak populations of around eight million, ascended skyward, and became ever more dense. In both, development was largely entrepreneurial and speculative, producing their wildly competitive and heterogeneous skylines.

Many of the visionary ideas that New York architects proposed in the 1920's came to fruition decades later in Hong Kong. Raymond Hood's or Hugh Ferriss's ideas of tower clusters linked by high-speed public transportation can be seen now in Hong Kong projects like the International Commerce Center, and the elevated walkways, multilevel transit, and mid-level escalators echo Harvey Wiley Corbett's dream of multi-level transit. Hong Kong, in many ways, can be seen as a "hyper New York," where the ideas and dreams of New York's early 20th century architects were enacted and surpassed.

Despite their similarities, the Asian and American cities differ significantly in their geography, history, and culture in ways that affect their vertical expression. Today, Hong Kong has surpassed New York in terms of the number of high-rises, population density, efficiency of mass transit, and government master planning. The exhibition introduced American audiences to Hong Kong's typical high-rise forms, including vertical retail malls and multi-use towers that stack and mix commercial, retail, and residential functions, the city's uniquely slender buildings, and the housing estate high-rises reproduced by dozens in developments in the New Territories. Using photographs, architectural drawings, models, computer animations, and films gathered from architects, developers, universities, and government sources, the installation highlighted outstanding individual projects and evoked the collective energy of the Hong Kong skyline.