Newsletter No. 96

CUHK Newsletter 2 No. 96 4th November 1996 Do They Appeal to You? Introducing two capital projects designed by external architects (Above) The New Science Building Complex, artist's impression (Below) Phase V redevelopment of Chung Chi's teaching buildings, artist's impression A nyone walking around The Chinese University campus w i ll probably notice many buildings in varying stages of renovation, construction sites whence whole buildings promise to shoot in a few years' time, and slopes ridden with curious contraptions. The campus currently houses over 120 buildings. Besides regular maintenance, the condition of the older buildings and their facilities have to be reviewed from time to time to ensure quality and safety. I f need be, they may be given a face-lift. To prevent landslides, the many slopes on campus and on Tai Po Road are currently being reviewed and stabilized. And to keep up with academic expansion and growing student numbers, existing space is reallocated while new functional space is created with the erection of new buildings. Throughout the years, campus planning and maintenance have primarily been carried out by the Buildings Office. However, the design of some of the new buildings including the New Science Building Complex and Phase V redevelopment of teaching buildings on the Chung Chi campus has been commissioned to external architects. Are these buildings the first externally designed structures on campus? Why are the jobs of designing them commissioned to external architects? Mr. Winston Kan, chief architect at the University, reveals that the buildings in question are by no means the first to use the services of external architects. The University's Sha Tin campus, in fact, was planned by Szeto Wai and Partners back in 1969. Due to budgetary constraints, however, most buildings since then have been the creations of the Buildings Office. But rapid expansion within the academic sector in recent years has again made it necessary to solicit the services of architectural firms. At present the Buildings Office has a chief architect, a senior architect, three architects, and an assistant architect. Mr. Kan points out that the existing manpower is not enough to deal with the office's increasingly heavy workload. It was incidentally also the wish of the former vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles K. Kao, to give the job of designing to outside firms, who may bring in fresh ideas. Mr. Kan further explains that large architectural firms are not interested in 'small jobs'. The New Science Building Complex and Phase V redevelopment of Chung Chi's teaching buildings are the two largest projects currently under way 一 the former is expected to yield a total usable area of 4,451 m 2 and the latter, 10,100 m 2 . So what are the University's criteria in deciding who to commission? According to Mr. Kan, they are primarily size 一 only medium-sized and large firms are considered, and reputation 一 a firm's standing and forte. And of course the firms have to be interested in taking on the job. Research is done into the recent performance of shortlisted firms and experts in the field are consulted on their suitability. Final selection hinges on the reputation of the responsible architects and the sketches they present to the University. Designed by Simon Kwan and Associates, the New Science Building Complex is situated on the hillside facing the Science Centre. To f it in w i th the topography, the nine-storey building is wedge-shaped in design with a top-floor area of 1,100m 2 that gradually tapers off to 110m 2 at the lowest levels. When finished, the complex will house classrooms, laboratories, equipment storage rooms, lecture theatres, and conference rooms. The eighth floor is an outdoor area which opens on to New Asia College. Instead of having to tackle the long and winding route to the college, commuters can simply take the lift up to the eighth floor and zip across. The tentative users of the complex are the Biochemistry Department and the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering. Construction works are proceeding according to schedule and, if there are no mishaps, the building w i ll be completed in September 1997. The new teaching block at Chung Chi is situated on one of the most architecturally challenging sites on campus — a very steep elongated slope to the south-east of Chung Chi Road. Progress of this project has been slow due to problems with loose soil and strict regulations of the government's Geotechnical Engineering Office, which require, amongst other things, application for its approval for every step in the construction process. It is hoped that the whole project will be completed by the end of 1998. This means that piling works, which have been scheduled for commencement in early December 1996, will have to be finished by the late April 1997, and the construction of the superstructure, by early May Mr. Winston Kan