A Man For All Reasons
Perspective|January - February 2018

William Lim, co-founder of Hong Kong architectural practice CL3, has spent the last four decades building a name for himself that extends well beyond his main profession

Suzanne Miao

In the field of architecture, waiting is a significant part of the game, as amply proven by Antoni Gaudí ’s Sagrada Família, which has been in construction since 1882 – and scheduled for completion in 2026, the centenary of the architect’s death.

So, for William Lim, managing director of Hong Kong architectural firm CL3 and a well-known artist and art collector, waiting four years for H Queen’s to be unveiled is no big deal. “It’s a project that’s very close to my heart,” he says. “It merges two important forces in my life – architecture and art – and, located in the very heart of Hong Kong, it has been a thrill to build something so meaningful.”

To fully appreciate the significance of H Queen’s in the context of Lim’s long and successful career – which includes the likes of Hong Kong’s EAST Hotel, Bangkok’s Gaysorn Plaza 2, the interiors of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and the Hard Rock Hotel in Shenzhen – it helps to go back to his very early years. Growing up in Hong Kong, he loved drawing; it was his father, a developer who worked on numerous projects in Malaysia, who suggested that he could become an architect. “My parents remember me asking, ‘will there still be buildings to build?’,” Lim says with a laugh.

His father would make him hone his drawing skills by setting tasks, such as sketching a door jamb or some architectural detail. Later, at Cornell University in the United States – where he would gain both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture – he says photography turned out to be an essential part of his education: “A lot of architects are into photography, perhaps because it is a relatively fast process.”

Entering the ‘real world’ of employment and starting a family, however, he found that it was difficult to maintain his connection to the art world, but a project he was asked to work on would change that forever. “The developer was always interested in art; they were Dallas-based but had a very good Chinese art collection. The project was the Boston Design Center and, when we finished, they actually put a sculpture in the plaza, a Rodin casting. That’s when I realised that art and architecture are almost indivisible.”

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