Visibility and symbolism of corporate architecture : A multi-method approach for visual impact assessment

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationEnvironment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science
Online published4 Feb 2023
Publication statusOnline published - 4 Feb 2023


The global neoliberal cityscape is one of the most iconic products of contemporary urbanization. Inborn to international financial hubs such as New York, London, and Hong Kong, the dense concentration of high-rise bank headquarters became a powerful branding tool in the growing competition to attract foreign investment. Despite the extraordinary international attention this cityscape has attracted, there is a paucity of scientific research on its morphological principles and the gap between its visibility and perception. With a focus on Hong Kong, this study develops an innovative multi-method research design, combining historical investigation, a newly advanced visual impact assessment method, and a survey of a random probability population sample. The historical investigation reveals a volitional attempt to preserve visibility from key vantage points. The comparative assessment of bank headquarters and other corporate buildings, regarding both their visibility and perceived impact on the city’s image, demonstrates a gap between visibility and buildings’ perceived importance. The results illustrate the effective semiotic use of architecture, shedding light on how the symbolism of architectural form can consolidate neoliberal hegemony on the basis of shared perception. This study’s novelty lies in its multi-method approach and methodological advancement in terms of visibility analysis, while its significance is its potential application across a vast geographic area by scholars, designers, planners, and policymakers. © The Author(s) 2023.

Research Area(s)

  • Viewshed analysis, visibility assessment, corporate architecture, neoliberal cityscape, David Harvey