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The University of Chicago Hong Kong campus wins Prestigious Prix Versailles award

September 18, 2019 Accolades No Comments Email Email

The University of Chicago campus in Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong – has won the prestigious international design award Prix Versailles, the first architectural project in Hong Kong to receive the world title recognition.

The Hong Kong campus was awarded the Special Prize for Interior in the Prix Versailles Campuses category, in recognition of its innovation, creativity, energy efficiency, reflection of local, natural and cultural heritage, and its promotion of the values of social interaction and participation, which the United Nations holds in high regard.

Built on a historically important site on Mount Davis, the Hong Kong campus was designed by Revery Architecture (formerly known as Bing Thom Architects) under the leadership of the late Bing Thom. With his particular understanding of the local culture and history, the highly celebrated and visionary architect led his team to create a campus that combines modern functionality with preservation of and respect for the site’s history, featuring the adaptive reuse of existing heritage buildings on the site.

Evoking a contemporary “treehouse of knowledge”, the ribbon-shaped building echoes the hilly contours of the seaside site and carefully integrates with heritage structures now repurposed as classrooms and student lounges. The landscaped promenade and heritage courtyard are open for public access and guided tours for visitors to understand the history of this previously off-limits site.

The building’s single, curvilinear expression, accentuated by window glazing and sun screens, captures an abundant amount of natural sunlight to help reduce energy consumption in the building. In the heritage classrooms, glass partitioning was added to prevent air from escaping the air-conditioned classroom while allowing both sides to have a view, giving the block new life through the inclusion of a classroom. The campus also adopts a minimalistic design with plenty of wood in light tones to soften the heritage’s concrete structure and bring a touch of warmth to the center of academic exchange and social interchange.

“We are honored to have our Hong Kong campus as the first architectural project in Hong Kong to win the Prix Versailles world title. The recognition from the distinguished panel of judges is a testament of our commitment to conserving the site while giving it new life to fit its new function as an educational facility,” said Ka Yee Lee, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Chemistry, who also chairs the Faculty Advisory Board of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

“We are incredibly proud to win the Prix Versailles. The design of the building was inspired by the rich history of the site, the magnificent views, and the lush natural vegetation, and we sought to create a building that would both complement and embrace its unique surroundings, provoking the imagination while promoting personal interaction. This award is an exceptional honor and acknowledgment that our design intent and philosophy achieved that goal,” said Venelin Kokalov, Design Principal of Revery Architecture.

The University of Chicago’s commitment to design includes its global locations and the award-winning architecture of the University’s main campus in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, which features some of the most forward-thinking designers in the world, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Helmut Jahn, Mies van der Rohe, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects. This commitment to inspiring architecture extends beyond Chicago with the opening of the award-winning Hong Kong campus and plans in 2022 to open an expanded Center in Paris designed by renowned architect Jeanne Gang and her colleagues at Studio Gang.

Inaugurated in 2015 in association with UNESCO and the International Union of Architects, the annual Prix Versailles recognizes the world’s best architectural projects. Panel of judges include Francesco Bandarin, the former Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO, and other world famous architects and designers such as David Adjaye, Kazuyo Sejima, and Philippe Starck.

The Hong Kong campus has celebrated a number of architectural recognitions since its official opening in November 2018, including: SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture – Merit Award by The Society for College & University Planning, FuturArc Green Leadership Award – Merit Award by the Building Construction Institute Asia, ASLA Northern California Chapter – Merit Award in the General Design category, the International Architecture Awards 2019 – Restoration / Renovation category by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press, Ltd., and the HKIA CADSA Cross-strait Architectural Design Symposium and Awards 2019 – Gold Award in the Education & Religious category by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects.

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