What's the History of the Hopewell Centre?
Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
I’m bored of talking about IFC 2 and the ICC all the time. What skyscrapers are more interesting? – King Kong
What about the circular Hopewell Centre?
We tend to ignore it a bit these days. But when it opened in 1980, the 64-story structure was the tallest building in Hong Kong. It held the title for an impressive 9 years, until the Bank of China came along and pipped it to the post.
The building is, of course, named after property giant Hopewell Holdings. Founder and board chairman Gordon Wu has his offi ce on the top fl oor of the building, which must make for a worthwhile distraction during boring meetings. But it’s not the top fl oor that’s interesting: it’s what’s above it.
It’s said that during the construction of Hopewell Centre, a feng shui master was consulted on the designs. The sifu expressed concern that the cylindrical shape of the building looked altogether too much like a candle, or cigarette, and hence posed some kind of invitation for fire. To assuage his concerns, the plans were updated with one small addition: a small circular pool sits on the rooftop of the Hopewell Centre, ready to douse any flames that might spark up.
Does Gordon Wu take an early morning dip, 216m in the air? Probably not. But there’s an easy way to see the swimming pool for yourself. It’s featured in the music video for 90s R&B group Dru Hill’s 1998 song “How Deep Is Your Love.” The song’s bass-light beat may feel dated, but the video still offers phenomenal views of the tower, the pool, and Hong Kong—with some synchronized dancing thrown in for free.
But there’s more than the pool, of course. Any Hongkonger who grew up in Hong Kong in the 80s and 90s will have a memory of being taken to the revolving buffet restaurant on the 62nd floor of Hopewell Center. R66—so named because it completed a 360-degree revolution every 66 minutes—fed generations of Hongkongers on buffet classics and an incredible view. After time, the concept grew tired and attendance dropped off. In 2012 the restaurant reopened as fine-dine Spanish resto View 62, but this year the original concept returned as The Grand Buffet, still the city’s only revolving restaurant.
Yes, revolving restaurants may be cheesy (and the food cheesier still), but the truth is that the view from Hopewell Centre is as heart-stoppingly stunning as ever. From the flat green stretch of Happy Valley racecourse to the mountains rising up above Kennedy Road, to the traffic gridlocked in Wan Chai to the network of boats that trace across the harbor, it’s a meal to remind you: This wonderful city will always spin you right round.