Related Post: Take a trip up to the 55th floor to check out the views from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre, Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 10am until 1pm.
Nobody’s favourite Hong Kong skyscraper
Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong, better known as plain old IFC. It’s nobody’s favourite Hong Kong skyscraper, yet it’s the one you can’t seem to escape. Rising 88 floors above Central, all phallic and unsubtle, it has neither the quirky charm of the Bank of China Tower, nor the stately elegance of Central Plaza. But it is arguably more imposing than them both.
Built on reclaimed land almost on the shoreline of Victoria Harbour, Two IFC was the tallest building in Hong Kong for seven years between its completion in 2003 and the opening of the 484m ICC across the water in 2010. Its 412 metres also made it the fourth tallest building in the world at the time and you get the feeling it kind of knew it too.
In a world where bigger is better, or at least more deserving of status than the buildings below it, IFC seems to have taken that maxim and ran with it. In prime position on the waterfront, towering over its neighbours, for me it’s always been a straight up, straight down, column of unsubtlety that leaves you wishing for something more refined.
As a skyscraper, the International Finance Centre is functional for sure. Home to numerous banks and financial institutions, as well as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority on the 55th floor, you can’t argue that it doesn’t live up to its name. But architecturally engaging? I think not.
Still, catch it in the right light – preferably in silhouette or shadow – and IFC does offer itself up for some decent photo opportunities. Which is just as well, since, especially from Tsim Sha Tsui over in Kowloon, it’s pretty difficult not to photograph IFC if you’re pointing your camera back towards Hong Kong Island. It may not be as representative of Hong Kong as the Bank of China Tower, for instance, but what it lacks in aesthetic charm, it more than makes up for in size and sheer getting-on-picture-ability.
Two IFC in Numbers
2: Is the second of two IFC towers after its much shorter little brother 1IFC
4: Was the fourth tallest building in the world when it opened in 2003
8: Located at 8 Finance Street, Central
10.6: Metres per second top elevator speed
30: Seconds average wait time for one of the 42 double-decker passenger lifts that operate in the building
50: Number of storeys the joint Financial Times, HSBC, Cathay Pacific advertisment stretched when it was unveiled in 2003
55: The Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre is located on the 55th floor from where you can check out views of Hong Kong Island
88: Floors above ground
412: Metres tall
2003: Year completed
2 million: Square feet of office space inside