New site features restored heritage buildings located on historic Mount Davis
University of Chicago today officially opened The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong. A regional hub for ambitious research, education and collaboration, the new location is an important addition to the University’s international presence and engagement, expanding its intellectual contributions and academic collaborations in Hong Kong, China and Asia while bringing new opportunities for community partnerships and social impact.
Built on a historically important site at Mount Davis, The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong is supported by a grant received from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust for the site revitalization, by a leading gift from University Trustee Francis Tin Fan Yuen, AB’75, and his wife, Rose Wai Mun Yuen as well as by gifts from alumni, parents and friends. In addition, with a grant from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Heritage Preservation Project supported the restoration of the heritage buildings at the site and located on The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Campus, where tours and exhibitions highlighting the history of the site will be available to the public.
To officially mark the opening of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the site. Activities began in parts of the facility earlier in the year. The Honorable Mrs. Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, attended the opening ceremony and congratulated the University in strengthening its engagement in Hong Kong and Asia. Approximately 250 guests including alumni, friends, leaders from The Hong Kong Jockey Club, University and community as well as neighbors attended the opening celebration.
“Higher education institutions are essential to creating the talent we need to succeed in the global economy. They are also essential in connecting people, institutions, business and governments. That is indeed the case today, as we formally welcome one of the world's most prestigious universities, the University of Chicago to Hong Kong,” said Lam in her speech as the ceremony’s Guest of Honor.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong will catalyze innovative collaborations and the exchange of ideas, including interdisciplinary, cross-cultural discourse. Building upon a long and rich history of excellence in scholarship, research and teaching related to Asia, the University aims to create new opportunities in working with others to increase understanding of the region’s past, present and future in Hong Kong for years to come.
“We are proud to open the Hong Kong campus, which represents a long-term commitment by the University of Chicago to a wide range of academic collaborations and other efforts that will make a positive social impact in Hong Kong and Asia,” said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer during the ceremony. “It will be the next intellectual destination in the region, where scholars, researchers, students and alumni from around the world can benefit from many forms of intellectual exchange and engagement with the most pressing issues of our time.”
As part of the grand opening celebration, a series of academic panels will be held on December 1, where faculty members from the University will be joined by scholars from educational institutions in Hong Kong and other parts of the world to discuss a broad range of topics, such as cultural change brought by immigration as well as the impact of technological advances to financial markets.
A destination for intellectual exchange and regional collaborations
The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong is a home for the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’s Executive MBA degree program and Booth Executive Education non-degree courses for local professionals as well as The Hong Kong Jockey Club Programme on Social Innovation, which is operated by Chicago Booth with support from the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. Moreover, the site will host activities from across the University of Chicago, including academic workshops, conferences and public lectures as well as the University’s undergraduate study abroad program. Since 2015, University of Chicago faculty members have organized a study abroad program in Hong Kong, focused on the themes of colonialism and its effects.
In response to the strong and growing student demand for study abroad opportunities in Hong Kong, the undergraduate college is partnering with the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics to develop a faculty-led program designed for economics majors that will include internships. The new Economics in Hong Kong program will launch in Winter 2020.
The campus will host academic collaborations among universities and institutions in Hong Kong and the region such as the research partnership and exchange program between the University of Chicago and Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Peking University. The program promotes the development of a rigorous social work profession and infrastructure, tackling the most challenging social issues in China.
“We are thrilled about the opening of our new facility in Hong Kong,” said Bala Srinivasan, vice president of strategy and innovation, deputy provost, and chief international officer. “Not only will it serve as a base for existing programs offered by the University, it will allow our faculty and students to engage more fully in a part of the world that is increasingly important to the global economy, through new educational programs and research partnerships.”
“The Hong Kong Jockey Club is delighted to have been able to play a part in the University’s establishment of its new Hong Kong campus, and thus bring many long-term benefits to the city as a leading higher education hub in the region,” said Anthony W K Chow, chairman of The Hong Kong Jockey Club.
“The University is committed to research, academic and entrepreneurship programs as well as collaboration with local institutions for ideas and innovations. Rose and I are proud to witness and support another great milestone for the University,” said Francis Yuen, University of Chicago Trustee, AB’75.
As part of the official opening, the University of Chicago is also launching the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics-China, having recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Tsinghua University.
This agreement establishes an innovative collaboration through which University of Chicago and Tsinghua University scholars will conduct research across a range of economic issues, leveraging new economic and commercial data sets. This joint effort will facilitate short-term faculty and student exchange programs between the University of Chicago and Tsinghua University, and a range of research conferences and seminars.
Heritage preservation and commitment to the community
In 2016, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust generously provided a grant for the University to support the revitalization of the existing Grade 3 heritage buildings at the Mount Davis site, including the introduction of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Heritage Preservation Project and the conservation and development of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Campus, where The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Courtyard and Interpretation Centre is situated. The grant also supports The Hong Kong Jockey Club Programme on Social Innovation, which is operated by Chicago Booth with support from the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. It aims to enhance Hong Kong’s social impact through strengthening the social service sector by combining the best of the University’s education, research and global perspective with social impact-specific programs and local collaborations. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Programme on Social Innovation also offers scholarships to Booth’s Executive MBA degree program and Executive Education non-degree courses, as well as events and workshops in fields like impact investing, social entrepreneurship and NGO board governance.
Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings
The campus and faculty design, by Revery Architecture (formerly known as Bing Thom Architects), combines modern functionality with the preservation of and respect for the site’s history, featuring the adaptive reuse of existing heritage buildings on the site.
Block A, one of the heritage buildings with its timber staircase and rustic stone fireplace restored, is now used for classrooms and student lounges. Having an open design and walls with square latticed patterns, Block B maintains the detention cell marks from the past on the ceiling and walls. Glass partitioning was added to prevent air from escaping the air-conditioned classroom while allowing both sides to have a view, giving the block new life through the inclusion of a classroom. The Block B building is now used for classrooms and group study rooms, connecting with Block B Annex–home to The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Courtyard and Interpretation Centre–via an interior staircase and is guarded by metal grille and gate and kept visible from the Annex.
Having previously been part of the Victoria Road Detention Centre, The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Courtyard and Interpretation Centre will present permanent and rotating exhibits with guided tours highlighting the unique history of the Mount Davis site, and will be open to the public free of charge by online appointment, starting in December.
“The University is committed to conserving the site while giving it new life to fit its new function as an educational facility. Through the collaboration with The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Campus will demonstrate the University’s commitment to the support of and integration with the Hong Kong community,” said Ka Yee Lee, vice provost for research and professor of chemistry; chairperson of the Faculty Advisory Board of The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex | The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.
As part of the revitalization process, exterior heritage elements in The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Heritage Campus such as the disused battery gun, the emplacement and ancillary structures have been made accessible to visitors, while the heritage trails on the Hong Kong campus were made to connect with the public hiking trail on Mount Davis. With the campus’s open design, the public will have access to heritage trails on a daily basis and is welcome to visit the campus’ open area.
The University will host a heritage and community day on Dec. 2, when the Hong Kong facility is open to the public to visit, with panel discussions on the site’s architecture and conservation, as well as various art installation and literary exhibits.