- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 02 Jun 2017
Bank of China Tower
The Bank of China Tower is a skyscraper in the Central and Western District of Hong Kong and is arguably the city’s most iconic building. It houses the headquarters of the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited. It was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and L.C. Pei of I.M. Pei and Partners and was completed in 1989.
With a height of 72 storeys or 315 m (1,033.5 ft), and two masts reaching 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft), it was the tallest building in Asia from 1989 to 1992, and was the first building outside the United States to exceed the 305 m (1,000 ft). The Bank occupies the top four and bottom 19 storeys of the building, while the rest is leased out. The 43rd floor houses a small observation deck which is open to the public.
It has featured in blockbuster films ‘Battleship’, ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, and ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’.
 Design and construction
The high-tech structural expressionism of the design provides the building with its distinctive character. It initially caused some controversy as the only major building in Hong Kong not consult feng shui practitioners. In particular, concern was raised about the sharp edges of the building and numerous ‘X’ shapes in the original design, which were seen as negative symbols. As a result of this controversy, Pei modified the design prior to construction.
Pei drew inspiration from bamboo shoots to symbolise prosperity and strength. Four vertical steel shafts create a composite structural system that diminishes incrementally, quadrant by quadrant, until a single triangular prism is left. The triangular framework transfers structural loads to the four shafts. This innovative system solves the site-specific problem of being able to resist high winds, as well as eliminating the need for internal vertical supports. This meant less steel was used than for a typical building of such size. The building is clad with glass curtain walls.
The tower is set back from the street, creating an attractive pedestrian environment surrounded by a broad promenade and flanked by water gardens that provide shelter from the urban congestion and noise.
Locals have given the tower the nickname ‘One Knife’ because its profile resembles a meat cleaver from certain angles.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Guidance for local authorities and consultancies setting planning conditions.
A real deal – at last?
How does anastylosis help in the reconstructing of ancient monuments?
More than just aesthetic and historic values and meanings.
An exciting and novel collaboration between the RIBA and the SPAB.
Republic of Ireland updates to planning and development.
The different types of pile foundation.
Achieving a net-zero carbon UK by 2050.
Responding to an invitation to tender.
Statutory instruments laid in Parliament to amend the Climate Change Act.
How will we pay for infrastructure post-Brexit after EIB has gone?