The June event is about the important conservation and revitalization project thus far in Hong Kong. An interesting talk entitled The Trials and Tribulations of Revitalizing Central Police Station (CPS) was delivered by Mr. John Latter, Head of Property Project Management, The Hong Kong Jockey Club. The presentation held at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on 18.6.2013 was well attended by 58 members and guests.
John has 30 years of experience in the construction industry. He has a successful track record managing the planning, design, construction and operation of retail, office, hospitality and residential developments. John, by profession, is an engineer. He graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering from Imperial College in 1976. In 1984, he joined Leighton Contractors (Asia) Ltd. as a Senior Engineer responsible for major infrastructure projects. In September 1999, he joined PCCW as the Project Director for Cyberport Project. In 2004, he joined a joint venture company formed by MGM Mirage Inc. and Ms. Pansy Ho to develop a prestigious Las Vegas style Hotel/Casino in Macau. In 2008, he headed the Jockey Clubs Property Development. His current portfolio includes: revitalization of race course facilities, construction of a 500,000 sq. ft. technology center in Sha Tin, Clubhouse improvement projects, Charity projects including the proposed revitalization of the CPS compound.
The CPS project comprises the restoration of 16 historic buildings and several open spaces within three declared monument: the CPS itself (completed in 1919), the Central Magistracy (built between 1912 and 1914), and the Victoria Prison (e.g., D Hall built in 1858) and the erection of two new structures tentatively named as the Old Bailey Wing and Arbuthnot Wing. The project is a partnership of the HKSAR Government (Development Bureau) and the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Charities Trust. The heritage site area is about 3.37 acres. The architectural design of the CPS project is the joint effort of Herzog & de Meuron, the conservation architects Purcell from the UK and a leading Hong Kong based Rocco Design Architects.
John firstly outlined the brief history of this conservation project and described the interesting aspect of the heritage work. He then introduced the professional team and his project management team of HKJC. Like other construction projects, this revitalization project also went through the Section 16 Planning Application, which excluded residential use (approved on 6.5.2011), the Environmental Impact Assessment (approved on 18.4.2011) and the Archaeological Investigation (approved on 27.9.2011). The management contractor is Gammon Construction limited and the contracted commenced on 1.7.2011. The approval process is lengthy, coupled with the late award of the piling contract and the delay in trail piling work and Buildings Department consent delay. The revised target completion date is 2015.
The huge challenge is the collaborative efforts of three architectural firms. Herzog & de Meuron has been engaged to design the two new buildings while Purcell exceles in conservation of 400+ years old buildings in the UK (the current site is much younger). John suggested an aggressive team to inject new elements to the unique historic character of the heritage site. The second challenge is the difficulty in quality control. The heritage timber doors and windows, double-panel Chines roof and brick walls are required to be reserved properly. They are expensive processes, amid the very limited skilled laborers (only 24 in total in Hong Kong) specializing in doing heritage works. Another difficulty is the design of the cooling system in 18 buildings.
At the end, the revitalized site will be operated under a non-profit making model. It will be used for mixed purposes (public services: 36%, contemporary art/cultural: 37%, and commercial: 27%). The income from the commercial concerns will contribute towards the cost of the public programs. It is expected that the HKSARG will grant a 10-year lease on the site with an option to renew for another 10 years. In February 2013, the HKJC Charities Trust invited interested operators to join it to revitalize the CPS for all people to enjoy from 2015 onwards. Finally, John asked the audience to provide a Chines name for the project buildings, previously known as or in English, Big House.