by Zach Mortice
... and this time I bet it’ll get built. Her Innovation Tower for Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design will accommodate 1,800 students and staff of one of the most well-respected design schools in the world. In 1983 Hadid, Hon. FAIA, won an international competition for a sports club and apartment complex on Victoria Peak, the city’s best-know sightseeing spot, which Architectural Record characterizes as a “horizontal skyscraper” that was “deemed un-buildable.”
The tower evokes the shape of an ocean liner, and will be located near a cross-harbor tunnel. Transformatively subtle shifts in mass seem to make the 12-story tower less of a vertical creation and more of a horizontal one. It’s clad in tinted glass and polished metal louvers that shift across the façade; dynamic racing stripes that gives the vaguely ovular building the appearance of the fastest-looking cruise ship that never moves.
Inside, it’s pure Jetsons and very Zaha, with nary a rectangle to be seen. From the entry foyer, a long escalator takes visitors and students up through four levels of glazed and transparent workspaces, all meant to facilitate open and interdisciplinary interaction. According to materials in the buildings media kit, “Priority lies in the drawing in of the campus staff, students and public into a welcoming new space that acts both as the buildings entrance and organizer for the existing complex.” The project is expected to break ground by 2009 and to be completed by 2011.
For all of Hadid’s eminence, the day-to-day aesthetic scrutiny this building will have to withstand will come hard and fast. Every single regular user will be a design expert. That’s always a risky proposition.
When you’re designing for designers, what additional rigors do you prepare for?