This historical building was once one of the tallest in Hong Kong’s Central district.
About the Building
Built in 1950, the 17-story Old Bank of China building was, for some time, one of the masterpieces of Hong Kong architecture. Contemporary in style, it was completed only a year after the Communist Party came to power in China. The new party endeavored to make it one of the grandest buildings in Hong Kong and, at one point, it towered more than 20 feet (six meters) over the neighboring Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building (HSBC), which was their goal.
No longer home to the Bank of China, the attractive building is – ironically – now one of the shortest in Hong Kong’s Central district, replaced in the 1990s by I.M Pei’s stunning Bank of China Tower. However, during its heyday, the old building served not only as bank headquarters but also as a way to encourage Hong Kong citizens to disregard their colonial rulers and pledge allegiance to China. It is said that during the 1960s, loudspeakers were placed on the exterior of the building to broadcast “patriotic” messages to locals.
The Old Bank of China was designed by P & T Architects and Engineers Ltd., established in 1868. Also known as Palmer and Turner, the group has – throughout the decades – designed a number of other well-known Hong Kong landmarks, including the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (Bank of China’s rival) and a number of other office buildings, hotels, and condominiums worldwide.
The interior of the Old Bank of China building was completely renovated and updated in 1998 so as to make it more suitable for modern industry, including today’s banking businesses that still occupy portions of the building.