Bachy to kick off construction at Cultural District

Projects, Slider 11 Sep 2013
Bachy to kick off construction at Cultural District

WKCDA awards foundation contract for Xiqu Centre

The long-delayed West Kowloon Cultural District project has finally got itself to the construction starting line with the award of the foundation contract for the first facility.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority yesterday confirmed to Construction Post that it has awarded the foundation contract for the Xiqu Centre to French specialist contractor Bachy Soletanche.

It did not provide details of the contract sum and the contract period.

The authority only confirmed the award after Construction Post enquired about the foundation contract after noticing Bachy Soletanche site notices at a site entrance of the West Kowloon site on a visit on Monday.

The award of the contract comes on the heels of the Building Authority approving building plans for the Xiqu Centre in July.

Neither the Authority’s website nor Bachy Soletanche’s website has mentioned the award of the contract yet.

A total of 11 contractors had submitted tenders in early June for the work.

The design of the Xiqu Centre, which will be used for Chinese opera performances, was finalised in December last year after a design submitted Canadian firm Bing Thom Architects and Hong Kong firm Ronald Lu & Partners won a design competition held by the authority.

Last month Chinese newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported that as much as HK$100 million had been cut from the construction budget for the Xiqu Centre after making drastic design changes.

These include reducing the height by one storey to six storeys and having a one storey basement instead of a two storey basement.

The cost of the Xiqu Centre was reported to be at about HK$2.5-2.6 billion after making the design changes.

The Xiqu Centre site on 9 September 2013  (Danny Chung)

The Xiqu Centre site on 9 September 2013 (Danny Chung)

The entire West Kowloon Cultural District project, first proposed by the then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa in 1998, has been beset by wrangles over design and cost over the past 15 years.

An early plan for a huge canopy designed by Foster + Partners to cover the entire site was scrapped in 2005 over concerns about cost.

Undeterred, the government went back to the drawing board and held another design competition for the master plan which Foster + Partners won again in 2011.

According to a paper submitted by the authority to the Legislative Council in early July, the latest “ballpark estimate” of construction cost for the whole project is about HK$47.1 billion, more than double the one-off upfront endowment of HK$21.6 billion approved by skeptical lawmakers in 2008.

Keeping a man at the helm of the authority has been problematic as well.

The authority’s first chief executive Graham Sheffield left suddenly in early 2011 after only spending five months on the job to be replaced later by Michael Lynch.

Danny Chung

 

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