A prominent landmark on Hong Kong Island, it consists of two skyscrapers, the ifc mall, and the 55-storey Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Tower 2 is the tallest building in Hong Kong, usurping the place once occupied by Central Plaza. It is the third-tallest building in the Greater China region and the seventh-tallest office building in the world, based on structural heights; by roof height, only the Taipei 101, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Sears Tower exceed it. The International Commerce Centre, currently under construction above the MTR Kowloon station and scheduled for completion in 2010, will usurp 2IFC's various titles.
The complex was built entirely on reclaimed land, as part of a $40 billion complex for the Central station of the Airport Express line, and was developed by Central Waterfront Property, a joint venture between Henderson Land Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties. In 1996, lead developer Sun Hung Kai had bid the sum of HK$5.5 billion to acquire the rights to develop from the Government. The MTR Corporation retained a stake in the venture. Sun Hung Kai, owns 47.5 per cent of the development, Henderson Land took a 32.5 per cent stake in the project and its associate Hong Kong and China Gas unit owns 15 per cent. Bank of China holds 5 per cent.
The MTR issued a booklet showing its grand design in 1996 called Building Hong Kong's Future, which showed two 40-storey office blocks in front of the Hong Kong Station, each about 200 metres high. However, following advice from property agents, the MTR was persuaded to drop this plan for a single Megatower, 400 metres high, to make a distinctive landmark and provide better views for tenants. The apparent trade-off was that having one tall tower allowed open space to double, and 50 per cent more parking spaces are provided.
Both 1IFC and 2IFC were designed by César Pelli, architect of the Petronas Towers. 1IFC resembles the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, a tower also designed by Pelli. The construction costs of 2IFC was reputed to have been HK$ 19.5 billion. More than 3,500 workers from various places around the world worked at the construction site during the peak construction period.
The building not only failed to comply with the original design plan, it also breached Metroplan guidelines prohibiting new developments from cutting the ridge-line of Victoria Peak when seen from various key points. The Metroplan states that viewers should be able to see at least 20 to 30 percent of the hill above new developments when viewed from key points on the waterfront, including the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. As the top floor of Two ifc is slightly higher than the city's Victoria Peak viewing gallery in Hong Kong, many locals and tourists canvassed by The Standard objected that the tower would obstruct the famous view of Victoria Harbour from the Peak.
There had been some letters of complaints to the local newspapers about the proposed development including one from local historian, Jason Wordie, suggesting that the building may break government height guidelines. "We try to adhere to the guidelines as far as possible," Chief Town Planner Chu Hing-yin says. "Visual impact and urban design is only one of them.". The Town Planning Board had given its approval for the development in August 1996.
The problems affected the nine-level northern podium, close to the new ferry piers. Remedial measures involved the construction of two new bored piles either side of each of the 13 that had not reached rock level. The 38-storey South West Tower was apparently unaffected. Central Waterfront said that of the 110 bored piles used in the northern podium complex, "most of them were short", and blamed the contractor, B+B Construction.
Tower 1 is also known as 1IFC and branded as "Ifc One". Likewise, Tower 2 is also known as 2IFC and branded as "Ifc Two".
1IFC opened in December 1998, towards the end of the Asian financial crisis. Tenants included ING Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, Fidelity Investments, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority and the Financial Times.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority purchased 14 floors in 2IFC; the HK Mortgage Corporation signed a 12-year lease on ; Nomura Group agreed to take at 2 IFC; the Financial Times, an existing tenant at One IFC, took . Ernst & Young took six floors (from the 11th to 18th floors), or about , in 2IFC, to become the biggest tenant.
2IFC, which was completed at the height of the SARS epidemic, was initially available to rent at HK$25-HK$35 per square foot. In 2007, as the economy has improved, high quality ("Grade A") office space is highly sought after, rents for current leases are $150 per square foot as of March 2007.
Two International Finance Centre, completed in 2003, is attached to the second phase of the ifc mall. This 415 m tall building, currently Hong Kong's tallest, is quoted as having 88 storeys and 22 high-ceiling trading floors to qualify as being extremely auspicious in Chinese culture. It is, however, short of the magic number, due to the fact that "taboo floors" like 14th and 24th etc. are omitted as being inauspicious - 14 sounds like "definitely fatal" and 24 like "easily fatal" in Cantonese.
The highrise is designed to accommodate financial institutions. For example, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is located at the 55th floor. It is equipped with advanced telecommunications, raised floors for flexible cabling management, and nearly column-free floor plans. The building expects to accommodate up to 15,000 people. It is one of relatively few buildings in the world equipped with double-deck elevators.
The 55th, 56th and the 77th to 88th floors were bought by the HKMA for US$ 480 million in 2001. An exhibition area, currently containing an exhibit of Hong Kong's monetary history, and a library of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre occupy the 55th floor, and are open to the public during office hours. The 88th floor of the tower contains the office of the Chief Executive of the HK Monetary Authority, and is served by an individual lift.
Despite common practice for owners to allow naming buildings after its important tenants - the building accommodates some very prestigious tenants - the owners decided not to allow renaming of the building in fairness to all.
The Four Seasons Hotel is a five-star luxury hotel that was completed and opened in October in 2005. The 206 m (674 ft), 60-storey oceanfront hotel is the only Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong. The hotel has 399 guest suites, and 513 service apartments. Amenities include what is claimed to be a world-class French restaurant Caprice and spa. It is the largest Four Seasons Hotel.