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Acclaimed British Architect Norman Foster Design Picked for $2.8B Hong Kong Cultural Hub
In this file photo taken Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, British architect Norman Foster arrives at a hotel to promote his documentary film 'How Much Does Your Building weigh, Mr. Foster?'' at the 58th San Sebastian Film Festival in San Sebastian, northern Spain. Acclaimed architect Foster has won the right to design Hong Kong's new $2.8 billion West Kowloon cultural hub. Hong Kong's No. 2 official Henry Tang told reporters on Friday, March 4, 2011, that the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority board has endorsed Foster + Partners' "City Park" proposal. AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos.

By: Min Lee, Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP).- Acclaimed British architect Norman Foster has won the right to design Hong Kong's new $2.8 billion West Kowloon cultural hub with a pitch to transform a reclaimed coastal strip into a lush waterfront park with both western and Chinese opera houses, concert halls, a museum and arts schools, officials said Friday.

Others who submitted proposals were Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and local designer Rocco Yim. But it was Foster + Partners' "City Park" proposal that won the endorsement of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority board with a plan to develop the 100-acre (40-hectare) site on the Kowloon peninsula.

His other designs include the Hong Kong international airport, the international terminal at Beijing's airport and the HSBC building in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang said Foster's plan prevailed because it was flexible and did a good job of mixing arts, space and commercial use like shops and restaurants. He also praised the plan for its emphasis on arts education for professionals and the lay audience alike. The overarching theme of a park also has won broad public support, he said.

Foster + Partners' press department didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Foster's pitch, which includes a ringing endorsement from U2 frontman Bono, said his plan will include a 47-acre (19-hectare) park with more than 5,000 trees and a shaded 1.4-mile (2.2-kilometer) promenade along the coast. The park component "brings the sights, sounds and senses of Hong Kong's hinterland into the heart of the city," it said.

The British designer appealed to Hong Kongers' craving for space in this densely populated southern Chinese financial hub. "Some of the things you will be able to do are relax in a tranquil sculpture garden, have tea in a pavilion, or enjoy a picnic on the waterfront," his proposal said.

Friday's announcement marks Foster's second winning bid for the West Kowloon project.

Foster + Partners won an earlier design contest in February 2002 with a proposal whose centerpiece was a massive canopy, but it was never built because the project was shelved in 2006 amid concerns that it would be assigned to a single developer that would inject a large residential real-estate component. Foster's canopy design also raised concerns about its cost and maintenance.

Tang did not announce a construction schedule on Friday but said detailed drafting for Foster's plan will be submitted to town planning officials for approval at the end of the year after another round of public consultation.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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