City University roof collapse

City University of Hong Kong will demolish sports centre where roof caved in and erect a bigger one

New building will be twice the size with extra facilities, an auditorium, meeting places and learning venues

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 9:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 10:49pm

City University will knock down a sports centre at which three people were injured last year when its green roof collapsed and build a 10- to 12-storey building with more facilities and an auditorium.

“The building will be self-financed and we are in the progress of preparing a proposal to be tabled to the school’s governing council for discussion,” university president Way Kuo said on Thursday, although he did not reveal how much it would cost.

The roof of the five-storey Hu Fa Kuang Sports Centre in Kowloon Tong, featuring a greening project, crashed to the ground on May 20, raising questions about the safety of such environmental projects on buildings across the city.

An investigation committee found the contractor had miscalculated the roof’s loading limit, while the Buildings Department identified poor workmanship, design failures and the use of substandard materials as possible contributing factors.

Vice-president for administration Sunny Lee Wai-kwong explained that the entire sports centre would be torn down to make way for a new building, which would feature more sports facilities, an auditorium, meeting places and learning venues.

He was confident the proposal would be passed by the council, adding that construction would take about four years.

‘Layman’s manual’ on Hong Kong’s green roofs hopes to allay public fears

Student Union president Alvis Chan Ngok-lam welcomed the decision and said most students supported the idea to redevelop the building due to safety concerns. The school had consulted students and staff on three proposals, with the other two being to restore the original structure or to add an extra floor.

But Chan was concerned about the lack of sporting facilities for students while the new centre was being built, which would mean they would have to use public venues.

Lee acknowledged the situation was not ideal, but added the university had other locations for students to exercise, including a sports centre it jointly owned near Baptist University.

The vice president also said that the university was still in discussions with lawyers about the roof collapse and would take action against the contractor at an appropriate time.

On an academic issue, the executive director of the university’s school of veterinary medicine, Dr Howard Wong Kai-hay, said about 600 applicants were fighting for 10 to 15 places on its self-financed six-year undergraduate course in veterinary medicine. The programme, the first of its kind in the city, starts in the next academic year.

The Education Bureau had said the university should recruit students only after it had met the initial requirements of an international accreditation body.

The university said it was working towards meeting the standard set by the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council and was expected to gain complete accreditation when the first students graduated in 2023.

Kuo also announced that the school was looking to buy a farm in the New Territories with a year that would be the home for cows to produce “CityU milk”. Lee said it could provide opportunities for learning for veterinary and life sciences students.