New way to The Forum
Friday, January 27, 2012
A popular pedestrian rest area at The Forum in Exchange Square will have a fresh new look by early 2014 that will not come at the cost of its famous statues and fountain, the landlord has pledged.
In a spot of good news for office workers looking for a bit of respite from the summer sun, Hongkong Land also said more ornamental trees will be erected.
A spokeswoman for Central's largest landlord told The Standard that the changes are part of a HK$560 million redevelopment to transform The Forum from a shopping arcade into an office building.
All statues, including those of two water buffaloes and a tai chi figure, will be restored to their original spots once the redevelopment is completed.
"A lot of people think the buffalo statues represent a bustling stock market, but actually that's not the case," she said. "However, the interesting thing about art is that people can have different ideas of what the statues represent."
Executive director Raymond Chow Ming-joe has said the project will result in a new iconic building in Central.
He added the company is undertaking the project for two reasons: a dearth of office space in the district and the greater income potential ensuing from such a transformation.
Timmy Yau Man-hin, who works in Central, said open areas offer workers a release from claustrophobic offices in the district, one of the city's busiest.
"Such open areas are definitely needed. There is a huge sense of pressure inside offices, as they are usual
ly small," Yau said.
"Chater Garden is another good example of places where we can have fresh air."
Other workers in Central also welcomed the decision to keep The Forum open area more or less intact, saying it offers an escape from their busy and sometimes suffocating offices.
Under the plan, the five-story Forum, which for 23 years has housed restaurants and shops, will become a seven- story gemstone-shaped building, with a total gross floor area of 48,491 square feet - about 15 percent more space.
Five of those floors will be dedicated offices, while the other two will house a car park and a bus terminal.
The east and west plaza areas will be morphed into a single space, and the existing obstructive walls will be removed to give people the feeling that the outdoor sitting area is bigger than before.
There will also be a covered passageway, leading from the sitting area to the Connaught Road footbridge.
Gentle sloping ramps will also be created to ease access for the handicapped.