A meeting of the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) ended on Monday without any historical grade being awarded to North Point’s State Theatre amid threats of demolition.
A statement published last week by Walk In Hong Kong and other heritage and architecture groups urged the Antiquities Advisory Board to raise the building’s grade from Grade 3 to Grade 1.
A Grade 3 historic building grade is defined as “Buildings of some merit; preservation in some form would be desirable and alternative means could be considered if preservation is not practicable.” Grade 1 historic buildings are classified as “Buildings of outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible.”
Cultural heritage group Walk In Hong Kong posted a statement on their Facebook page after the news of the committee’s decision broke, thanking their supporters and assuring them that the group would continue to monitor the situation.
‘Unable’ to measure importance
AAB chairman Lam Siu-lo stated after the meeting that the committee was unable to come to a conclusion over the State Theatre, reported RTHK.
“We have been unable to grasp much with regards to changing the structure of the building. We have also been unable to properly measure the importance of the theatre’s history of development and the importance of the theatre as a monument.”
Lam added that as there are no immediate plans to reconstruct or rebuild the theatre, the board will continue to assess and analyse the building in order to give it a proper historical grade.
On Tuesday, Lam appeared on an RTHK television program with Walk In Hong Kong CEO Chan Chi-yuen, who criticised the decision making behind the theatre’s grade.
“Why does it appear to be that these ‘experts’ didn’t use common sense when coming to a decision about the theatre’s grade, especially if an ordinary observer can see the value in the building in his assessment that the ‘experts’ seem to have overlooked?”
The State Theatre was opened in 1952 and has become a notable landmark in the architectural and cinematic world of Hong Kong until its closing in 1997. The theatre has reportedly since been under threats of demolition by a consortium.