Did you know that Hong King tops the list of cities with the most skyscrapers in the world?
This makes it all the more surprising that it wasn’t more than a sparsely populated fishing village until halfway through the 19th century. Today, the city is home to well over 500 skyscrapers and is one of the most densely populated places on the planet.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the International Commerce Centre, the most impressive building in Hong Kong.
1. It’s located in the western part of Hong Kong’s main peninsula
The Hong Kong International Commerce Centre is an incredible skyscraper located in the West Kowloon area of the Kowloon Peninsula. This is the main peninsula on which Hong Kong was built and the southern part of the city.
Across the peninsula, there’s another highly developed part of the city called Hong Kong Island. This is situated across the Victoria Harbour, a natural harbour that separates the peninsula from the island.
It’s easy to recognize the distinctive skyscraper because it towers above all other buildings in this part of reclaimed land.
2. It’s the centerpiece of a huge urban development project
The skyscraper is part of the Union Square project, a commercial and residential urban development project that started way back in 1992. Today, many of the highest skyscrapers in Hong Kong can be found here.
The entire site covers an area of 13.54 hectares (33.5 acres), a size that can be compared to the Canary Wharf development area in London.
All buildings combined feature a floor area of 1,090,026 square meters (11,732,940 square feet). Union Square area is also home to the most luxurious residential skyscraper in Hong Kong called “The Cullinan,” situated just north of the tall tower.
3. The building was designed by a renowned American firm
The project of the skyscraper was a joint venture between MTR Corporation Limited, the metro operator of Hong Kong, and Sun Hung Kai Properties, the city’s largest real estate development company.
The preparatory construction phase started back in 2002 but it wasn’t completed until the final construction phase between 2007 and 2010.
The building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, an American architectural firm that is based in New York City. The company has been involved in multiple high-level projects, including The World Financial Center in Shanghai, the Lotte Tower in Seoul, and One Vanderbilt in New York City, to name just a few.
4. It was the 4th-tallest building in the world upon completion
The building features 108 floors and 4 additional ones below the ground. It reaches an incredible height of 484 meters (1,587.9 feet) which makes it the tallest building in Hong Kong, quite an achievement.
One of the most fascinating facts about the International Commerce Centre is that it was the 4th-tallest building in the world upon completion in 2010.
As of 2022, many newly constructed skyscrapers have surpassed it and it holds the 13th position in terms of tallest buildings in the world and the 6th-tallest within China.
5. The skyscraper features a popular hotel and an observation deck
The skyscraper features an incredible 274,064 square meters (2,950,000 square feet) of floor space which is used by companies for commercial offices and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
This is one of the most popular hotels in Hong Kong, unsurprisingly because it’s located inside the tallest building in the city.
It also features the highest observation platform in the city called “Sky100.” This name is a reference to the fact that it’s located on the 100th floor of the building, 2 floors below the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The platform is situated at a height of 387.8 meters (1,272.3 feet) and provides some of the most stunning views of Victoria Harbour and this sprawling city.
More interesting facts about the International Commerce Centre
6. The skyscraper is located on Austin Road West, one of the main roads in West Kowloon, and the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) district of Hong Kong. This road was named in honor of John Gardiner Austin (1812-1900), a man who served as the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong between 1868 and 1879.
7. The International Commerce Centre shouldn’t be confused with the International Finance Centre, a building it faces on the other side of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island.
The IFC was constructed between 1996 and 1998 and was the tallest building in the city until the ICC was completed in 2010. With a height of 415 meters (1,361.5 feet), it also served as the ultimate symbol of the city during this period.
8. The initial idea was the make the skyscraper much higher than it eventually turned out to be. It was scheduled to have a height of 574 meters (1,883 feet) with 102 floors.
This plan was adjusted because of regulations that don’t allow structures to be higher than the surrounding mountains. If the original height was maintained, the structure would have towered 162 meters (531 feet) above the International Finance Centre, the second-tallest building in the city.
9. Although there are 108 floors inside the building, the official floor count is 118. That’s because of a superstition that is prevalent in this part of the world called “tetraphobia,” a fear of using the number 4.
The reason is that in many Asian countries, including China, the word for the number 4 sounds very similar to the word for “death.” That’s why all floors featuring the number 4 were removed such as 4, 14, 24, etc.
10. A large shopping mall called “Elements” is located near the bases of both the International Commerce Centre and the Cullinan residential towers. The mall was built right on top of the Kowloon MTR station which means it’s easily accessible from other parts of the city.
Elements features 93,000 square meters (1,000,000 square feet) of floor space divided across 4 levels. It was named for the five elements of nature, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth, which also serve as the sections into which the mall was divided.