UChicago Hong Kong campus wins international architectural design award

Prix Versailles award is latest recognition of University’s forward-looking architecture

The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong has won the prestigious Prix Versailles international design award.

The campus, which opened in 2018, was awarded the Special Prize for Interior in the Prix Versailles Campuses category, in recognition of its innovation, creativity, energy efficiency, reflection of local, natural, and cultural heritage, and its promotion of the values of social interaction and participation. Inaugurated in 2015 in association with UNESCO and the International Union of Architects, the annual Prix Versailles recognizes the world’s best architectural projects.

The Hong Kong campus is built on a historically important site at Mount Davis and serves as a regional hub for research, education and collaboration. Designed by Revery Architecture (formerly known as Bing Thom Architects) under the leadership of the late Bing Thom, the campus combines modern functionality with preservation of and respect for the site’s history, featuring the adaptive reuse of existing heritage buildings. The campus is the first architectural project in Hong Kong to receive the world title recognition.

“Architectural design across our university’s campuses reflect the diversity and boldness of ideas central to our identity. In collaboration with great architects, we have created preeminent intellectual destinations around the world where new knowledge is pioneered, deeper understanding is plumbed, and transformative educational experiences thrive,” said David B. Fithian, executive vice president of the University. “The University of Chicago is honored that The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong is recognized with the Prix Versailles award.”

From its inception, the University’s main campus in Chicago has been conceived by some of the world’s leading designer such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Helmut Jahn, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, César Pelli, and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects.

On the UChicago campus, a number of designs recently have been honored, including the 2018 Distinguished Building Award Honor Award from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for the Campus North Residential Commons, designed by Studio Gang; 2017 Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions or Adaptive Reuse from the Society for College and University Planning for the Saieh Hall for Economics, designed by Ann Beha Architects; and 2015 American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Design Awards Merit Award for the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

This commitment to innovative design extends beyond Chicago with the award-winning Hong Kong campus and plans to open in 2022 an expanded Center in Paris designed by Studio Gang, a design practice led by renowned architect Jeanne Gang.

Evoking a contemporary “treehouse of knowledge,” the Hong Kong campus’ ribbon-shaped building echoes the hilly contours of the seaside site and carefully integrates with heritage structures now repurposed as classrooms and student lounges. The landscaped promenade and heritage courtyard are open for public access and guided tours for visitors to understand the history of this previously off-limits site.

“We are honored to have our Hong Kong campus as the first architectural project in Hong Kong to win the Prix Versailles world title. The recognition from the distinguished panel of judges is a testament of our commitment to conserving the site while giving it new life to fit its new function as an educational facility,” said Ka Yee Lee, the University’s vice provost for research and chair of the faculty advisory board of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

The building’s single, curvilinear expression, accentuated by window glazing and sun screens, captures an abundant amount of natural sunlight to help reduce energy consumption in the building. The campus also adopts a minimalistic design, with plenty of wood in light tones to soften the heritage’s concrete structure while bringing a touch of warmth to the center of academic exchange and social interchange.

“We are incredibly proud to win the Prix Versailles. The design of the building was inspired by the rich history of the site, the magnificent views, and the lush natural vegetation, and we sought to create a building that would both complement and embrace its unique surroundings, provoking the imagination while promoting personal interaction. This award is an exceptional honor and acknowledgment that our design intent and philosophy achieved that goal,” said Venelin Kokalov, design principal of Revery Architecture.

The Hong Kong campus has celebrated a number of architectural recognitions since its official opening in November 2018, including: SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture – Merit Award by The Society for College & University Planning, FuturArc Green Leadership Award – Merit Award by the Building Construction Institute Asia, ASLA Northern California Chapter – Merit Award in the General Design category, the International Architecture Awards 2019 – Restoration / Renovation category by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press, Ltd., and the HKIA CADSA Cross-strait Architectural Design Symposium and Awards 2019 – Gold Award in the Education & Religious category by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects.