New look for US Consulate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 1996, 12:00am

For nearly 40 years, the United States Consulate-General stood unchanged in Garden Road.

But over the past three years, jackhammers and construction equipment have worked on a changing face for changing times.

In April, on the eve of Hong Kong's return to China, its facelift and expansion will be complete.

New Consul-General Richard Boucher, who arrived last weekend, will be the diplomat in charge of one of the largest US missions in the world.

Officials at the consulate said there was no connection between work on the consulate and 1997.

The timing has produced some wild speculation, including a theory that a helicopter pad is being erected on the roof to facilitate an evacuation similar to that from the former embassy in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.

Officials have denied this and other rumours.

The building at 26 Garden Road was occupied by the US Government in 1957 and there was no major renovation until early 1993, when the present US$23 million (HK$177 million) project began.

The first part involved the building of a five-storey office annex which was completed last year and allowed staff to move into the complex from rented offices across the road in the St John's Building.

The work now under way, which has turned the front of the building into a construction site, is renovation. A new facade is being erected under the scaffolding and is expected to be unveiled next month.