OCBC Building- Architectural merits as statement














The Construction of the OCBC headquarter, as required by Mr. Tan, was designed to be a symbol of strength and permanence, a “national monument”. The 3-tire system adopted by IM Pei consisting of two semi-circular reinforced concrete cores supporting 3 tremendous transverse girders was an innovative technology, allowing the construction to complete in 2 years. Upon its competition, from newspaper clips covering its inauguration ceremony, OCBC headquarter was acclaimed to be “not only the tallest building in South east Asia, but also one of the handsomest examples of modern architecture to be seen anywhere round this world.” Its building material, Sicilian granite and highly polished steel, was claimed to be carefully selected and imported from Tajima of Japan. In later reports, DBS building and OCBC headquarter rivaled against each other over the crown of “the owner of the fastest lifts in Singapore”. Rather than looking for satisfying performance or great aesthetic values, they chased after the crown, the peak of efficiency and technology.

Against the backdrop of Singapore’s seeking for survival in global environment and ambitious private clients, architectural design was mostly emphasized on technology and efficiency aspects, the appearance of building was not to please the eyes, but to impress people with its technology advancement. Architectures were created as statements. Architectural merits were used as tools to manifest the economic and technological power of banks as cooperation and Singapore as a state.

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