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.
Learning from Hong Kong:
Thursday's program commenced three days of enlightened conversations and comparisons of Hong Kong and New York on the 60th floor of 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza with a commanding view of the harbor, one reminder of the cities' similarities. Thomas Ho, MTR Property Director, explained the transit-based economic and tiered urban development of Hong Kong, with its tall towers rooted by commercial space that links directly underground to the extensive transit system. David Scott, Julia Lau, and Paul Katz elaborated on the engineering, design and development,of the MTR's mixed-use and multi-level Airport Express complexes at IFC and ICC. Christopher Ward (PANYNJ) and Lee Sander (MTA) supported Thomas Ho's memorable conclusion that Hong Kong's arrangement is a "win-win-win-win" for society, developers, government and MTR, but questioned whether this model be applied to sprawling America, or even Manhattan? Vishaan Chakrabarti of the Related Companies turned the tables, "is New York America's Hong Kong?"
Friday's session moved to Tishman Auditorium at The New School, where the topic "Debating Density" was addressed by an array of Hong Kong experts and activists and their counterparts from New York. Paul Katz introduced the argument that density is a more cost-effective and sustainable approach to development. Nicholas Brooke outlined the model of Hong Kong's hyper-dense housing stock, followed by a discussion with economist Mark Willis about affordable housing in New York City. Urban planner Peter Cookson Smith illustrated the character of Hong Kong's traditional streets and new urban spaces, noting that Hong Kong could benefit "in many ways to follow some of the examples of New York." Christine Loh embodied the civic ideology of Jane Jacobs, emphasizing the simple, ceremonial, and political uses of Hong Kong's public space, while Margaret Brooke spoke to the consideration of heritage and preservation in Hong Kong amidst tower construction. Robert Tierney offered a response outlining the practice of landmark preservation in New York.
After a hour of wine reception and informal dialogue, the crowd returned to Tishman Auditorium for the symposium's plenary speech by Hong Kong's Secretary for Development, Mrs. Carrie Lam, who offered an overview of the Hong Kong SAR government's initiatives in urban planning and the design of public space, harbor reclamation and preservation, housing, and heritage issues. She referenced Thomas Ho's preceding presentation and commented that the rail and property model is "really very miraculous [in] that all these rail developments were built without incurring a single dollar of the government's money." She warmly praised the work of New York City planners and preservationists for the vibrancy of the city's neighborhoods and street life. In her response, Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission emphasized the many similarities of the two cities and suggested that the dialogue should continue.
Theory and practice framed the discussions of Saturday's architects, urban designers, and academics who engaged the ideas of a "culture of congestion" and designing density. Beautifully composed slideshows invoked theories of development and design, from Rem Koolhaas, Jane Jacobs, and Le Corbusier with Hong Kong urbanists Paul Chu and Laurence Liauw relating their city's culture to its physical design and human habits shaping built environment. Ackbar Abbas and Alexandros Washburn offered their theories and practical experiences to the conversation, applying examples of New York City to Hong Kong. Architect Eric Howeler spoke about the surface conditions and thermal spaces of commercial towers in Hong Kong, and Jim Robinson discussed pedestrian bridges as objects of design, development and pedestrian transit, while Brian McGrath spoke about rapid urbanization and complemented the discussion with a study of Bangkok.