Renovating a Hong Kong Landmark

International architecture firm Leo A Daly recently won two 2011 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Hong Kong awards for its work on the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Hong Kong campus in the Sham Shui Po district.

The adaptive reuse project, which transformed the decommissioned North Kowloon Magistracy Building, built in 1960, into Hong Kong’s first university focused exclusively on art and design.

A + A recently interviewed via email John Paul Rowan, vice president for SCAD Hong Kong, and Bob Dickensheets, director of construction and preservation, about the renovation of this project

How will it relate to the other SCAD campuses?

Rowan: Each SCAD location offers a distinct yet complementary learning environment for our students.

SCAD Savannah provides students with a full university experience in Savannah, Georgia, one of the largest and most renowned National Historic Landmark districts in the United States. Since opening in 1979, the university has grown to occupy approximately two million square feet in more than 70 facilities throughout downtown Savannah.  The unique urban location includes classrooms, studios, computer labs, darkrooms, galleries, libraries, theaters, residence halls, dining facilities and fitness centers.

SCAD Atlanta is located in the center of a fast-paced, major metropolitan marketplace, with more than 100 art galleries and 1,000 international businesses. The vibrant and expanding SCAD facilities include classroom and exhibition space, computer labs, a library, photography darkrooms, printmaking and sculpture studios, a dining hall, a fitness center, a swimming pool and residence halls.

SCAD’s residential study-abroad location in Lacoste, France, offers immersion in the rich culture of Provence. Within Lacoste’s ancient walls are facilities that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, yet they feature a variety of modern amenities such as computer labs, classrooms, studios, a library, a dining hall and housing for students, faculty and guests.

SCAD Hong Kong, the newest location, welcomed its first students in September 2010. This location is the only university focused exclusively on art and design education in Hong Kong. The revitalized heritage site offers a library, art gallery, computer labs, digital studios, classrooms and lecture halls.

Through award-winning SCAD eLearning programs, students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees from anywhere in the world. Online programs may include blended-learning, limited residency and hybrid learning formats.

One of the unique benefits of studying at SCAD is that students have the ability to transfer among the university’s different locations without loss of academic credit, scholarship or change in tuition. This offers students an exceptional opportunity to study and grow at a new, international location, expanding the exceptional education and life-changing experiences they enjoy already at SCAD.

How about your relationship with the various levels of government there?

Rowan: With our international reputation for historic conservation and adaptive reuse, we thought the former North Kowloon Magistracy Building would provide an ideal location for a new location. We were encouraged by local organizations like Invest Hong Kong to consider Hong Kong for a new location, too.

We have had a very good experience working with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government. In particular, we have worked closely with the Hong Kong Development Bureau, following all processes and guidelines outlined in the government’s Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership Resource Kit. We also enjoyed working with the Education Bureau for our curriculum registration. Working with the Commercial and Economic Development Bureaus has been a good experience too.

As one of the six pillars for economic growth recently put forward by the Hong Kong government, the creative industry is essential for the long-term sustainable development of Hong Kong. We are honored to nurture Hong Kong’s creative talents and to collaborate with industry partners and the arts sector to further develop students into the very creative leaders needed to manifest such a hub.

How green is this campus?

Dickensheets: As with all of our global locations, sustainability is a primary focus in facilities management. In Hong Kong, as at our U.S. locations, we have recycling programs for both student and faculty waste (cans, bottles, etc.) and general facilities waste (such as paper and cardboard). Sustainability was definitely a focus in our original design planning and included highly efficient lighting and mechanical systems and bathroom facilities. Specialized window shades also are being used to reduc solar generated temperatures in the summer and increase heating capacity in the winter.

What can other campuses learn from SCAD Hong Kong?

Rowan: SCAD is a proven leader in conserving and adaptively reusing existing buildings and historic structures that provide students and faculty with facilities that serve as living laboratories for the study of art, architecture and design.  We hope that SCAD Hong Kong, the first building to complete revitalization under the Hong Kong government’s first-ever “Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership” scheme, provides a model for other educational institutions and nonprofit organizations that want to explore adaptive reuse for their facility needs.  Adaptive reuse can give underutilized and neglected buildings new life while reinvigorating a neighborhood or community.  It’s definitely a win-win for all involved.

For more on SCAD, go to

For more on Leo A Daly, go to

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