The Calm in the Ivory Tower
The University of Hong Kong’s Main Building serves as the University’s claim to past imperial glory – built in 1912, the classistic structure, complete with bell tower, stucco and dark wood panelings, graces most of the University’s publicity materials and manages to conjur images of a more elegant city, in a more civilized age. And yet, in personam (or in edificiam) the Main Building seems somewhat lost and forlorn on its promontory overlooking busy Pok Fu Lam and Bonham roads. On campus, it is isolated in location and style, as brick-and-cement buildings from the 1970s rose to Hong Kong-appropriate heights, sporting little stucco and none of the creamy salmon pastel tone that clads the Main Building.
As the University expanded, it lost more and more touch with its childhood home. Now that many offices, lecture halls and class rooms have been moved to the gleaming new Centennial Campus, taking along with them most of the Arts students that once populated the Main Building’s halls, a certain calm has settled within the century-old walls. And yet, still serving as the University’s representative venue, one still finds some of those arts students bustling down the corridors, or studying in one of the Building’s four quiet courtyards, alongside the goldfish-stocked fountains.