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Top 8 Amazing Facts about the HSBC Building

Did you know that Hong Kong is the city with the most skyscrapers in the world?

It’s not even close either with over 540 tall buildings because that’s almost 200 more than runner-up Shenzhen (over 340) and third in the list New York City (over 300).

One of these is the epitome of High-Tech Architecture, a style also known as Structural Expressionism.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the HSBC Building, a stunning building in Hong Kong.

1. It’s located in the historical heart of Hong Kong Island

The HSBC Building is one of the most amazing skyscrapers in Hong Kong, and that means something in a city that is home to over 540 high-rise buildings.

It’s located where the Old City Hall of Hong Kong once stood, the first building of its kind that served its purpose between 1869 and 1933.

This building was constructed when the city was nothing more than a fast-growing fishing village and it became completely outdated when it was demolished in 1933.

The modern skyscraper faces Statue Square to the north, a relatively small public square that was constructed on a piece of reclaimed land in the northern part of Hong Kong Island.

This is where the British Established established a colony in the early 1840s, nearly 2 decades before it expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula just north across Victoria Harbour.

HSBC Building Hong Kong Location
The building in Hong Kong / Wiki Commons

2. It’s the headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

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As the name of the building suggests, it serves as the headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

This multinational banking company was founded in 1865 and served as the parent company of the multinational corporation.

Since 1991, the company has split and the building in Hong Kong serves as the headquarters of the Asia-Pacific subsidiary. HSBC serves customers in just about every country in the Asia-Pacific Region.

HSBC Holdings plc is headquartered at Canary Wharf in London and is the largest bank in Europe by total assets.

HSBC Building in Hong Kong Structural Expressionism
Frontal view of the building / WiNG / Wiki Commons

3. It’s the fourth building in the city that has served this purpose

The modern skyscraper we can admire today was constructed between 1983 and 1985. This means that several other HSBC headquarter buildings came before it.

The first building to have served this purpose was Wardley House. The bank leased this building between its establishment in 1865 and 1882.

Wardley House HSBC Building
Wardley House (left) / Wiki Commons

There’s no trace of Wardley House anymore because it was demolished to make way for a much larger building on Queen’s Road Central.

The Victorian-style building featured rows of collonades and the typical arcades that dominated the urban landscape of Hong King at the time.

The second HSBC building was demolished in 1934 to make way for the third building.

Second HSBC Building Hong Kong
The Second Building in 1901 / Wiki Commons

4. The third building was the tallest in Hong Kong upon completion

The third building that served as the headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was an Art Deco Building, the popular architectural style of the 1920s and 1930s.

This bank had grown o much by then that it required building a relatively tall skyscraper that was the tallest building in Hong Kong at the time.

The building briefly served as a government building during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and was the first structure in the city to be fully air-conditioned.

Third HSBC Building in 1967
The third building in 1967 / Wiki Commons

5. The current High-Tech building was designed by a renowned British architect

The banks had grown at an incredible pace once again during the following decades and the building that was once the tallest in Hong Kong didn’t suffice anymore by the 1970s.

The third building was demolished in the early 1980s and British architect Norman Foster was hired to design a completely new structure.

He incorporated a high-tech design that consists of 5 steel modules that were pre-fabricated in the United Kingdom.

The most remarkable fact about the HSBC Building is that it features no internal support. It’s a steel-suspended structure that uses 30,000 tonnes of steel and 4,500 tonnes of aluminum.

It features 44 floors and has a total floor area of 99,000 square meters (1,065,627 square feet). It’s far from being the tallest building in Hong Today as it “only” stands 178.8 meters (586.6 feet) tall.

The construction cost was HK$5.2 billion or nearly $670 million, a figure that made it the most expensive building in the world upon completion.

HSBC Building Hong Kong architecture
Detail of the building’s design / Baycrest / Wiki Commons

6. The interior of the building looks just as impressive as the exterior

Because it’s a steel-suspended building, there was no need to incorporate internal support elements.

This means that the building features one of the most stunning atriums that you’ll ever come across.

The natural light from the top of the building is reflected into the interior by large mirrors, right down to the building’s plaza.

This is a great energy-conserving feature that allows the company to reduce energy costs and recoup the high construction costs.

HSBC Building Hong Kong interior
The building’s amazing atrium / Wpcpey / Wiki Commons

7. The entrance is guarded by two iconic lion sculptures

The first so-called “HSBC Lions” were placed in front of the HSBC Building in Shanghai in the year 1923.

They were nicknamed “Stephen” and “Stitt” in honor of bank managers Alexander Gordon Stephen and Gordon Holmes Stitt.

When HSBC opened its third building in Hong Kong, it commissioned two similar lion statues and placed them in front of the entrance.

When the ne building was being constructed in the early 1980s, they were briefly moved to nearby Statue Square before being put in position in 1985.

Similar lions, which serve as attractions in their own right, can be found in HSBC Buildings in several other cities, including London, Birmingham, and Shanghai.

HSBC Building Hong Kong Lion Stephen
Lion statue Stephen / BrokenSphere / Wiki Commons

8. The building is magnificently illuminated at night

The Hong Kong skyline is an amazing sight to behold at any time of the day, but it becomes truly magical at night. Hundreds of skyscrapers are magnificently illuminated at night, including this one.

This area of Hong Kong Island is especially stunning because several skyscrapers that are located right next to each other produce an amazing light show.

This includes (from left to right) the Bank of China Tower, the Cheung Kong Center, the Standard Chartered Bank Building, and the HSBC Building.

HSBC Buildoing Hong Kong at night
The building in Hong Kong at night / Wiki Commons