James Kinoshita: Building the Unanticipated
My wife, when she looked at [my ideas], she said, ‘Oh, it looks so boring. Why don't you try something different, like circles?’
James Kinoshita and Palmer & Turner
When James Kinoshita (Canadian, born 1933) arrived in Hong Kong in 1960, he inadvertently found himself at the forefront of the city’s construction boom. During his twenty-eight years at Palmer & Turner, one of Hong Kong’s oldest architectural and engineering firms, Kinoshita designed some of the city’s most enduring architectural landmarks.
Twenty-Eight Years of Iconic Hong Kong Architecture
Here are some of Kinoshita’s most distinctive projects from his time at Palmer & Turner:
- Hong Kong Island’s first five-star hotel, the Hilton Hotel (1963), one of the most prestigious venues in the city. (The hotel was demolished in 1995 to make way for the Cheung Kong Centre)
- The American International Assurance (AIA) building on Stubbs Road (1966).
- The Electric House, Kennedy Road substation (1967–1970).
- Jardine House (1972), formerly known as the Connaught Centre, which at the time was Hong Kong’s tallest building.
- The Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus (Phase I, 1976).
- The Landmark office and shopping complex (1979–1982).
Hong Kong: Inhospitable?
As an avid collector, Kinoshita initially felt Hong Kong was inhospitable, driven more by commerce than by culture. At first, he was sceptical about the city’s architectural opportunities. But his wife, Lana, encouraged him to treat the shortcomings he perceived as design problems requiring solutions through better architecture and infrastructure.
Produced by M+
Producer: Kenji Wong Wai Kin
Curatorial Research: Winnie Lai, Tina Pang
M+ Video Production: Lara Day, Chris Sullivan
Special Thanks: Aric Chen, Lana Cheung, James Kinoshita, Michael Rogge, P&T Architects and Engineers Ltd.
Part of the series “Making Hong Kong”
Making Hong Kong explores artists and makers from the M+ Collection who have been important to the unique development of Hong Kong visual culture.