5.1 Introduction

In the early part of 1993, the Premises Committee, headed by John Crawford, started to search for a suitable site to build a campus for CDNIS.

Numerous meetings and communications were made both with South District Land office and Education Department with discouraging results. 

At one of such contacts with South District Land Office, the Site was identified where the Permitted Use could be changed to accommodate CDNIS. The Site was originally allocated to a “religious retreat group” who subsequently aborted its plan. 

The Site was a piece of virgin land on the west facing slope of the Nam Long Shan headland in Wong Chuk Hang, on the opposite side of Ocean Park, with access from the narrow Nam Long Shan Road from the top of the sloping site. It commands fantastic views over the Aberdeen Marina and onto East Lamma Channel. It was offered to CDNIS by Lands Department in 1993. 

5.2 The Grant

There were original conditions attached to the proposed grant for the Site, which imposed problems for CDNIS.

An important condition was the requirement to widen the part of Nam Long Shan Road bordering the Site although the ingress/egress point was only at the northern tip. 

After extensive negotiations, especially with Highways Department and taking up the matter to the highest government levels, the condition was finally modified and CDNIS was only responsible for the retaining wall along the border of the Site which supports the widened road. Highways Department finally agreed to cover the cost for the balance of the road widening work. With hindsight, it turned out that the original estimated cost was significantly less than the actual amount spent by Highways Department. CDNIS was fortunate that the Premises Committee had the foresight of negotiating with the government to change this condition or it could threaten the viability of the project. 

Another hurdle was the requirement for CDNIS to provide evidence of its future growth expectations to justify the grant of the Site and the recipient of an interest-free government loan. John Crawford together with Neil Johnston prepared the necessary document to satisfy the requirement, using the production and printing facilities of John’s firm, Messrs. Ernst & Young. The Site and the government loan were both granted to CDNIS subsequently. 

5.3 The Architect(s) and its Team

In the summer of 1993, it was considered necessary and appropriate to seek help from professional architects with the necessary skills, experience and commitment for the project.

P&T Architects and Engineers Limited (“P&T”) was invited due to its initial involvement on a “no-charge” basis but more importantly, its principal partner, Nick Burns, had the necessary experience from his involvement with the design and construction of Chinese International School and Singapore International School. 

After a few rounds of meetings with the candidates, the Premises Committee decided to employ P&T, with the design input from Norman Grey-Noble of Carruthers Shaw & Partners in Toronto, who is an exceptionally experienced school design architect. 

At one time, the Premises Committee was also considering the appointment of a 
professional project manager but the idea was abandoned due to financial constraint and the Premises Committee took up the role as far as it could. 

CDNIS was in a better financial position when Phase II was constructed and Monica Vallor was employed as business administrator and her duties included co-ordinating the construction project. Tim Nutt, a professor in the Department of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was also employed to advise on technical issues. With this additional manpower, the progress, quality of construction of phase II plus the correction of some of the persistent defects of Phase I had improved tremendously. 

A member of the Premises Committee (and later Chairman of the Committee), Li Ho-Kin, who was subsequently made a Member of the Foundation, an architect by training, contributed significantly to the technical side and the provision of know-how for dealing with the various governmental departments in the approval of the design and with consultants and contractor in the construction process. 

Another member was the then Principal, Neil Johnston, who supplied the necessary project brief for the campus from a school administrator’s point of view. 

John Crawford was the key driving force behind all the successful dealings with government officials and other parties relating to the project. 

The entire project was under the overall supervision of Nick Burns of P&T with Chris Pemberton, a young Canadian architect on the staff of P&T, who had completed his studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, as the project architect, and subsequently, the resident architect. 

5.4 Construction of Phase I of the campus

5.4.1 Foundation 

The Site is on a slope. This imposed technical challenges and additional costs for the foundation works. Gammon construction (“Gammon”) began the Foundation work in January 1996 and completed it in late July 1996. 

Subsequently, it was discovered that many piles were installed out of alignment and some were missing. This led to protracted negotiations with Gammon to correct the problem and to agree upon deductions from the final account of the foundation contract for the future building contractors to correct the errors. Li Ho-kin represented CDNIS to successfully finalizing these matters. 

5.4.2 Phase I 

In 1996, tenders were called for construction of the superstructure and Chatwin Construction (“Chatwin”) was the successful bidder with its tender valid until August 31, 1996. The initial budget was HK0 million for work to commence at that stage. 

CDNIS could not commit to the construction contract without the government’s approval of its loan. 

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (“HSBC”) came to CDNIS’ assistance by providing a bridging loan for up to HK0 million contingent upon confirmation of the status of the government loan. The bridging loan was set at HK0 million so as to cover both the contingency of donation/debenture funding delays and the government loan. It was necessary to cover the latter because it could not be drawn down until the building was certified as “complete”, i.e. the issue of an Occupation Permit for the building. 

By the time the bridging loan was finalized, the Premises Committee had to persuade Chatwin to extend the validity period to the end of October. By then, all tender price conditions had expired and the building cost had escalated considerably. 

The delay in commencing construction of the superstructure and the related escalation in construction cost had caused the necessary decision to scale back the project in order to keep it alive. The revised project became “Phase I” which, in effect, sliced one-third from the southern side of the building. It eventually cost HK0 million. The truncated project was awarded to Chatwin upon the approval of the government loan by LegCo on January 17, 1997. The work on site finally commenced in the last week of February 1997 and completed in December 1998. 

 

5.4.3 Another Crisis 

By December 31, 1998, all the bridging campuses were closed and all contents were moved to the new campus. The final legal process was that CDNIS had yet to obtain an Occupation Permit to enable its occupation of the campus by the staff and students. Through a supreme effort by all involved, CDNIS finally obtained a Temporary Occupation Permit on Saturday, January 9, 1999 to enable it to open for classes on January 11, 1999. The official Occupation Permit was finally obtained on March 14, 1999 and CDNIS was able to draw down the government interest-free loan to repay the bridging loan from HSBC. 

5.4.4 Opening ceremony for Phase I 

The official Opening Ceremony of Phase I was held on May 13, 1999 and was officiated by then Chief Secretary, Madam Anson Chan, and then Consul-General of Canada, Mr. Colin Russell, and attended by many distinguished guests and most parents. 

5.4.5 Typhoon attack 

September 16, 1999 was a day to be remembered. Typhoon York passed over Hong Kong, with the eye of the storm literally crossing over and spanking the new Phase I building. Hurricane signal no. 10 was hoisted at 6:45 a.m for the first time since 1983. Winds of up to 200 km. attacked the metal roof with uplifting forces stronger than anyone’s reasonable expectation. For 11 hours, the longest in record, signal no. 10 was in force. When it was finally over, more than half of the burgundy-colored roof was pulled off. Luckily, throughout the entire episode, no one was injured, and the structure of the building, including the Canadian-imported heavy timber was not damaged. 

CDNIS had to suspend operation on the following Friday, but enthusiastic staff and teachers all returned to the campus and together with workers of Chatwin, helped clear out the debris with their own hands and arranged temporary covering to the opened parts of the roof. CDNIS quickly resumed classes on the following Monday. A new roof system was reconstructed with much stronger anchoring method by Christmas. 

5.4.6 Settlement of Phase I Contract 

In January 2000, 12 months after the Practical Completion date of the Phase I contract, the defects liability period expired and the architect began finalizing the final defects list and the quantity surveyor began compiling the “final account”. However, a number of persistent defects, which were seemingly impossible to be rectified, became stumbling blocks to wrapping up the contract. Up to Chinese New Year, the Premises Committee had arranged a couple of meetings with the contractor, hoping to strike a settlement agreement. These were not successful and the contractor indicated a desire to continue efforts to correct the defects.
This ‘defects process’ went on for almost another year during which a few more revised versions of final accounts were drafted and rejected. There were changes, particularly in key staff familiar with the contract, in the quantity surveyor’s firm and progress was very slow during this period. Finally, by March 2001, the Premises Committee instructed the quantity surveyor firm to nominate a new team to complete the task. By May, the last revised version of the final account was produced. The Premises Committee then started a series of discussions with the contractor, Chatwin. It was recognized that it was in CDNIS’ interest that the final account be agreed before that summer so that CDNIS could take over the task of repairing the still outstanding defects or change to alternate materials, as necessary. 
The final rounds of negotiations were rather dramatic and, although the differences between the two parties were drawing closer, a settlement agreement still had not been reached. Final settlement with the contractor, which closed the last gap, was reached by mid-June, 2001. 

5.5 Completion of Level 2

Phase I proved to be tremendously popular for all concerned and CDNIS continued with its growth.

Plans were therefore made to add additional classrooms and computer teaching facilities in Level 2. Space was allowed (but unfinished) for these extra facilities within the structure that was built in Phase I. An interior fitting-out type contract was issued in March of 2000, to the contractor – Pat Davie, who did an excellent job in providing finishing work for some of the areas in Phase I. Works on Level 2 were completed in August and ready for use before the students returned for the fall term.

5.6 Phase II Construction – Addition of 4 Floors – the “School-in-the-sky”

Back in 1994/95 when the small team of John Crawford, Li Ho-Kin and Neil Johnston were working on the initial design concepts for the campus, a key decision was taken to reinforce the foundation piling at the upper level of the site to enable construction of a building up to 6 floors.

. The ‘School-in-the-Sky’ project was made possible because of the considerable long-term vision made by these individuals. It also took courage to commit an extra HK-4 million into piling work at a time when future funding was so uncertain for the rest of the project. 

When the time came to decide whether CDNIS should proceed with Phase II, there was some uncertainty as to whether there would be sufficient demand for the additional four floors. To allow for this, the Premises Committee arranged for the Phase II tender to include an ‘option’ to also construct the additional 4 floors, i.e. a decision which could be made at a later date when Phase II construction was in process. 

In early 2000, building plans for Phase II were prepared and submitted to the Building Department. 

By April 2000, tenders were invited and Wing Hong Construction Company (“Wing Hong”) was awarded the contract for Phase II in July 2000. 

By the summer of 2001, with encouraging demand figures, the Board decided that the additional four floors should be constructed while Phase II was underway. This would save a huge amount of inter-phasing problems, if they were to be built at a later date. The completion of Phase II was then deferred to August 2002, to accommodate for the construction of the additional four floors. Occupation Permit for the entire project was obtained on August 1, 2002, and the staff and students were able to enjoy all the facilities when they returned in the fall. 

5.7 Possible Future Works

With the completion of the “School-in-the-Sky”, the only remaining unbuilt area of the Site was a small piece of land in the southeast corner.

One of the provisions in the Land Grant was for the school to build 16 residential units to be used as quarters for the staff of the school. It made good economic sense in the years with high cost of rental housing. Sketch plans for a residential block with separate access were prepared by P&T. However, with plummeting rents since 1997, the economic viability quickly diminished. This portion of the site is now left vacant, until new needs arise.

5.8 Award

The physical impact/presence of the campus of CDNIS is easy to see and appreciate.

The campus was built on a slope. This created additional costs on foundation works but also gave the architectural team the scope to design the campus making full use its view and characteristics. 

During the fall of 1996, the design for the new building was adjudged by a panel of judges at the conference of Educational Facility Planners meeting in Orlando, Florida. The CDNIS design received the top award, the Certificate of Merit amongst 75 entries from 6 countries.