Major Expansion to Hong Kong Exhibition Centre Completed

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Hong Kong – A major expansion that dramatically increased the exhibit space of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) made its public debut in mid-April.

The HK$1.4 billion ($180 million) expansion of the harbor-side landmark includes 19,400 square metres (208,819 square feet) of exhibit space and brings the total exhibit space in the HKCEC up to more than 83,000 square metres (893,404 square feet). The total rentable space grew to 92,000 square metres (989,920 square feet).

“The additional space is in great demand by our current clients,” said Cliff Wallace, managing director of the facility. “The expansion will also improve the logistics and functionality throughout the venue.”

The expansion project began in 2006 and also includes two new restaurants and a ballroom. It was built over the harbor itself and required some inventive planning by the construction managers, particularly due to the heavy amounts of steel used in the building and regulations allowing no more than 80 support columns to be sunk into the harbor bottom at any one time.

The project was completed on schedule and the HKCEC maintained its traditional heavy schedule of events throughout the construction. Among the events hosted was the Hong Kong Book Fair, which draws about 800,000 attendees.

The first show to make use of the new space is the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition), which is billed as the largest electronics event in Asia and is co-located with HKTDC International ICT Expo and the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair (Spring Edition). Organizers said the combined shows together would offer about 3,500 booths and in 2009 include new exhibit zones dedicated to IT security, storage technology, computer peripherals and digital and multimedia technologies.

The electronics show is just one of several shows that now have ample room to grow. “These are among the must-attend events in the world’s sourcing calendar,” said Fred Lam, executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. “The expansion will give them, and other fairs, space to grow, enabling some to become among the world’s largest.”

Lam said the expansion was expected to further boost the economic impact of exhibitions on Hong Kong’s economy. “It is expected that the cumulative economic benefits from the HKCEC expansion will amount to HK$40 billion ($5.1 billion), with up to 92,000 new jobs created between 2009 and 2025,” Lam said. “The exhibition business is a major pillar of the Hong Kong economy, contributing 6.4% of its GDP and 6.5% of its employment.”

Although the expansion of Hong Kong’s convention center comes at a time when the world is wrestling with recession, business in China could be picking up sooner than is expected in the U.S.  The World Bank issued a report in April predicting that Beijing’s $586 billion economic stimulus program would allow the economy to bottom out by mid-year and begin a rebound that will enable the Chinese economy to grow 6.5% this year despite a slump in exports. “A recovery in China is likely to begin this year and take full hold in 2010, contributing to the region’s stabilization,” the bank said in its report.

Reach Cliff Wallace at +852 2582 8888 or cliffwallace@hkcec.com; Fred Lam at +852 1830 668

SIDEBAR

Heavy Lifting

The new expansion to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre was a landmark project in Hong Kong, which has had its share of large-scale construction over the years. Despite the challenges, the project was completed on time and with no major disruptions to the center’s operations.

  • The construction schedule was designed from the “top-down” since the new space was designed to be suspended over the harbor.
  • A total of 28,000 metric tons of steel was used.
  • The project employed five of the heaviest steel trusses ever used in Hong Kong, each weighing up to 2,100 metric tons and measuring up to 109 metres (358 feet).
  • Lifting operations hoisted maximum loads of 4,000 metric tons, a record for Hong Kong and the equivalent of 22 Boeing 747 jets.
  • The floor load was calculated at 12.5 kiloPascals, which the HKCEC says is sturdy enough to accommodate just about any trade show.