Adrian Cheng wears many hats. Tycoon. Art patron. Philanthropist. The entrepreneur behind K11 Group. Executive director of jeweller Chow Tai Fook and executive vice-chairman of New World Development, his family’s international conglomerate. At one recent black-tie gala, his love for the finer things in life led one fellow partygoer to ignore all these and dub him the Great Gatsby of Asia. But the toughest job, he says, is one that’s often overlooked—that of fortune teller.
“When it comes to buildings, what you’re looking at today was probably designed seven or eight years ago,” says Adrian. “So for a project to be relevant, we need to be looking ahead 20, 30 years into the future, sometimes more. And that’s the hardest part because people change, the paradigm shifts and it’s easy to be distracted.”
Ambitious Art Projects
Adrian has spent the past 10 years resisting distraction because, quietly, he has been dreaming up his largest project yet: the US$2.6 billion redevelopment of Victoria Dockside on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.
“This land was acquired by my grandfather, Cheng Yu-tung, in 1971, then both my grandfather and my father built New World Centre in 1978. It was an icon and a hub for Hong Kong in the 1980s and ’90s,” recalls Adrian, looking out over the site. New World Centre was a retail, hotel, residential and office complex—a multi-use model Adrian has kept for the redevelopment.
Now the harbourfront development features a 65-storey tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) that houses both a Rosewood hotel and K11 Atelier offices; the 21-storey K11 Artus, featuring luxury residences; and K11 Musea, an art, culture and retail complex that Adrian sees as the heart of the project—a place he hopes will inspire visitors.
“K11 Musea is more than a shopping centre. I see it as a Silicon Valley of culture, and a gift to Hong Kong’s next generation” says Adrian. “It’s a melting pot of creativity and a celebration of culture. Contemporary art, fashion, music, design, coffee, gastronomy, performance art—they’re all here. And it doesn’t feel like a mall—it feels like a manor house or an estate.”
To create this “Silicon Valley,” Adrian assembled a team of 100 leading creatives from around the world, each of whom he commissioned to design a particular aspect of K11 Musea. Architect Forth Bagley of KPF was given responsibility for the exterior of the distinctive stepped building, while lighting designers Speirs + Major calibrated thousands of individual bulbs inside to create the dreamy, soft lighting Adrian was after.
Rising star Otto Ng, founder of Hong Kong-based LAAB Architects, designed intricate metalwork that wraps around the vast atrium-like banyan tree roots. Hong Kong-based studio AB Concept also contributed to the schematic design. “The design of K11 Musea is eclectic, but I selected designers who all embraced the same vision as me, then I just needed to guide them all in one direction,” says Adrian.
This land was acquired by my grandfather, Cheng Yu-tung, in 1971, then both my grandfather and my father built New World Centre in 1978. It was an icon and a hub for Hong Kong in the 1980s and ’90s