Bank of China Tower (Hong Kong)

The Bank of China Tower (abbreviated BOC Tower) is one of the most recognisable skyscrapers in Central, Hong Kong. Located at 1 Garden Road, the tower houses the headquarters of the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited.[5]

Designed by I. M. Pei and L.C Pei of I.M Pei and Partners, the building is 315.0 m (1,033.5 ft) high with two masts reaching 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft) high.[5] It was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia from 1989 to 1992, and it was the first supertall skyscraper outside the United States, the first to break the 305 m (1,000 ft) mark. It is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, after International Commerce Centre, Two International Finance Centre and Central Plaza.

Bank of China Tower
Bank-of-china clean-img-sma
The Bank of China Tower with surrounding buildings in Central, Hong Kong in 1989
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Location1 Garden Road
Central, Hong Kong
Coordinates22°16′45″N 114°09′41″E / 22.27917°N 114.16139°ECoordinates: 22°16′45″N 114°09′41″E / 22.27917°N 114.16139°E
Construction started18 April 1985
Opening17 May 1990
Architectural367.4 m (1,205.4 ft)
Roof315.0 m (1,033.5 ft)
Top floor288.3 m (945.9 ft)
Technical details
Floor count72 (+4 basement floors)
Floor area135,000 m2 (1,450,000 sq ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectI. M. Pei & Partners
Sherman Kung & Associates Architects Ltd. Thomas Boada S.L.
Structural engineerLeslie E. Robertson Associates RLLP
Main contractorHKC (Holdings) Ltd
Kumagai HK
Bank of China Tower
Traditional Chinese中銀大廈
Simplified Chinese中银大厦
Cantonese YaleJūngngán Daaihhah



The 6,700 m2 (72,000 sq ft) site on which the building is constructed was formerly the location of Murray House. After its brick-by-brick relocation to Stanley, the site was sold by the Government for "only HK$1 billion" in August 1982 amidst growing concern over the future of Hong Kong in the run-up to the transfer of sovereignty.

The building was initially built by the Hong Kong Branch of the Bank of China; its Garden Road entrance continues to display the name "Bank of China", rather than BOCHK. The top four and the bottom 19 storeys are used by the Bank, while the other floors are leased out. Ownership has since been transferred to BOCHK, although the Bank of China has leased back several floors for use by its own operations in Hong Kong.

Favouritism controversy

The Government had apparently given preferential treatment to Chinese companies, and was again criticised for the apparent preferential treatment to the BOCHK.[6]

The price paid was half the amount of the 6,250 m² Admiralty II plot, for which the MTR Corporation paid HK$1.82 billion in cash. The BOC would make initial payment of $60 million, with the rest payable over 13 years at 6% interest. The announcement of the sale was also poorly handled, and a dive in business confidence ensued. The Hang Seng Index fell 80 points, and the HK$ lost 1.5% of its value the next day.[6]


The Bank of China Building under construction in 1988

The tower was built by Japanese contractor Kumagai Gumi. Superstructure work began in May 1986.[7]

The tower is a steel-frame structure. The spray-on fireproofing material applied to the steel structure, a product called Monokote MK-5, was a source of controversy as it contains asbestos.[7] At the time, the use of asbestos was only partially banned in Hong Kong.

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 interrupted publicity surrounding the building's design and construction. A press conference scheduled for 24 May 1989, two weeks before the massacre, was intended to show off the building's "designer socialist furnishings", but was called off as the student demonstrations in Beijing escalated. The public relations firm that organised the conference explained to the South China Morning Post that "under the circumstances, it has been decided to stop any publicity to do with the Bank of China."[8]

Once developed, gross floor area was expected to be 100,000 m².[6] The original project was intended for completion on the auspicious date of 8 August 1988. However, owing to project delays, groundbreaking took place in March 1985, almost two years late. It was topped out in 1989, and occupied on 15 June 1990.


Bank of China Tower massing model
Massing model showing the shape of the Bank of China Tower. The labels correspond to the number of 'X' shapes on each outward facing side.

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I. M. Pei, the building is 315.0 m (1,033.5 ft) high with two masts reaching 367.4 m (1,205.4 ft) high. The 72-storey building is located near Central MTR station. This was the tallest building in Hong Kong and Asia from 1990 to 1992, the first building outside the United States to break the 305 m (1,000 ft) mark, and the first composite space frame high-rise building. That also means it was the tallest outside the United States from its completion year, 1990. It is now the fourth tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong, after International Commerce Centre, Two International Finance Centre and Central Plaza.

A small observation deck on the 43rd floor of the building was once open to the public,[9] but is now closed.[10][11]

The whole structure is supported by the four steel columns at the corners of the building, with the triangular frameworks transferring the weight of the structure onto these four columns. It is covered with glass curtain walls.

While its distinctive look makes it one of Hong Kong's most identifiable landmarks today, it was the source of some controversy at one time, as the bank is the only major building in Hong Kong to have bypassed the convention of consulting with feng shui masters on matters of design prior to construction.

The building has been criticised by some practitioners of feng shui for its sharp edges and its negative symbolism by the numerous 'X' shapes in its original design, though Pei modified the design to some degree before construction following this feedback. The building's profile from some angles resembles that of a meat cleaver and it is sometimes referred to as a "vertical knife".[12] This earned it the nickname “一把刀”(Yaat Baa Dou) in Cantonese, literally meaning 'One Knife'.


The Bank Of China Tower can be accessed by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) by walking through Chater Garden from Central Station Exit J2.

In popular culture

  • In the 2012 film Battleship, the building is torn in half by a crashing alien spaceship and its spire falls into the streets of Hong Kong, killing many people.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, the building is used as the exterior of Starfleet Communications Research Center.
  • The building in seen on the attraction It's a Small World at Hong Kong Disneyland.
  • The building was featured in the film Transformers: Age of Extinction, where Bumblebee and Dinobot Strafe makes their final stand against the Decepticon drone Stinger.
  • The building appears in Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie for several scenes.

See also


  1. ^ "Bank of China Tower". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ "Bank of China Tower". SkyscraperPage.
  3. ^ Bank of China Tower at Emporis
  4. ^ Bank of China Tower at Structurae
  5. ^ a b "Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited – About Us > About BOC Tower > Introduction". Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Philip Bowring & Mary Lee, Dear friends..., pg 114 Far Eastern Economic Review, 13 August 1982
  7. ^ a b Yu, Lulu (24 November 1987). "Check on asbestos at China bank". South China Morning Post. p. 1.
  8. ^ "Bank of China designers keeping a low profile". South China Morning Post. 23 May 1989. p. 8.
  9. ^ "Bank of China tower observation deck - Checkerboard Hill". Checkerboard Hill. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Hong Kong from high up: three buildings to explore | The Foreign Architect". The Foreign Architect. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Observation deck closed - Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong Traveller Reviews - TripAdvisor". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  12. ^ "How I.M. Pei's Bank of China Tower changed Hong Kong's skyline". CNN Style. 2017-12-21. Retrieved 2018-01-21.

External links

1990 in architecture

The year 1990 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

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BOC Aviation is a global aircraft operating leasing company and the largest aircraft operating leasing company headquartered in Asia, as measured by the value of owned aircraft.

BOC Aviation is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (SEHK: 2588) and has its headquarters in Singapore with offices in Dublin, London, New York and Tianjin.

BOC International

BOC International Holdings Limited, shortly BOCI, is the wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of China, which offers investment banking and securities brokerage services. It was established in 1998 and headquartered in Hong Kong. It has subsidiaries in New York, London, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Bank of China (Canada)

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Bank of China Building is the second tallest building in Macau, China. At 38 floors and 163 metres (535 ft) tall, it was designed by P&T Architects & Engineers Ltd and it is home to the Bank of China operations in Macau. The construction of the building started in 1989 and was completed in 1991.

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It was built on the site of the old German Club (c. 1907). It housed the headquarters of the Bank of China. The stunted appearance of the building is attributed to Victor Sassoon's insistence that no other building on the Bund could rise higher than his.

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The Bank of China Building is a development consisting of two skyscrapers located in the central business district of Singapore. It is located on 4 Battery Road, adjacent to 6 Battery Road, Maybank Tower, and roughly 100 metres from the Fullerton Hotel. The Tower serves as the headquarters for the Bank of China.

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Bank of China Insurance Company is the insurance subsidiary of the commercial Bank of China and is headquartered in Beijing. The company mainly engaged in property damage insurance, liability insurance, credit insurance, guarantee insurance, short term health insurance, accident insurance and reinsurance business. It is the first Chinese property insurance company to adopt the "bank insurance" business model.

Bank of China Mansion, Qingdao

Bank of China Mansion (simplified Chinese: 青岛中银大厦; traditional Chinese: 青島中銀大廈; pinyin: Qīngdǎo Zhōngyín Dàshà) is a 54-floor 241 meter (791 foot) tall skyscraper completed in 1999 located in Qingdao, China.

Bank of China Tower

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Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong

Bank of China Tower, Shanghai

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Chiyu Banking Corporation Limited also known as Chiyu Bank (Chinese: 集友銀行) is a bank incorporated in Hong Kong.

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List of architects of supertall buildings

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Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinZhōngyín Dàshà
Yue: Cantonese
Yale RomanizationJūngngán Daaihhah
IPA[tsóŋ.ŋɐ̌n tàːi.hàː]
JyutpingZung1ngan2 Daai6haa6
Supertall skyscrapers
(over 300 metres)
(over 170 metres)
Divisions and
Places and

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