The New Stock Exchange Tower: An "Odd Sculptural Piece" in the Middle of BGC
Its design speaks volumes.
(SPOT.ph) “Significant and symbolic” is how Andy Locsin, the head of Locsin Architecture, describes the Philippine Stock Exchange Tower in Bonifacio Global City. The country finally has a unified trading floor after years of having two stock exchanges, one in Makati and another in Ortigas Center, Pasig. Locsin described the previous division indicative of “typical Filipino tribalism.” And now that the two stock exchanges have joined together in the new Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) Tower is not only a cutting-edge addition to Bonifacio Global City's ever-growing skyline—it also makes a hopeful statement about the future of the Philippines.
According to Locsin, the tower is a "conglomeration of several design outfits," with New York-based firm Handel Architects for the initial conceptual idea, Locsin's firm for the interior and exterior design as schematic design architect, and GF & Partners Architects for the working drawings and as architect of record.
On the corner of 5th Avenue and 28th Street, the glassy edifice stands 30 stories high. Half of it overlooks the ground-level shops on Bonifacio High Street, The Fort Strip, and the greenery-lined walkway connected to Shangri-La at The Fort. Meanwhile, the other half is nestled in the shadows of neighboring high-rises. Just as it has combined the two stock exchanges, PSE Tower also becomes the threshold between the area’s commercial, corporate, and residential spaces.
While it fits right into BGC’s sleek look, PSE Tower also stands out. Amid its boxier neighbors, the building’s surprising angles attract the eye, making it somewhat of a centerpiece. Moreover, the asymmetrical glass awning, the faceted front face, and the futuristically sloped roof make the high-rise seem less like an office and more like, as Locsin calls it, “an odd sculptural piece.” But these details aren’t just a strategy to catch the attention of passersby. Locsin says they actually represent the stock market itself. Describing his team as “oddballs” and “overthinkers” who are “artistically prone to abstraction,” Locsin explains how their design—which makes use of grids and other familiar frameworks, but then disrupts them with random, unexpected details—represents both the order and chaos of the stock market.
Meanwhile, the story of the interiors is progress. Because stock trading has largely gone digital in recent years, the presence of a trading floor in PSE Tower is more of a historical monument for visitors who want to see the traditional stock-exchange format. In fact, the new trading floor is less elaborate and much smaller than its predecessors in Makati and Ortigas Center. But what the building lacks in physical trading space, it more than makes up for with its high-tech features.
Unlike a conventional office building which has concrete floors,” Locsin says, “[PSE Tower has] raised floors to accommodate fiber optic wiring.” The entire building is wired for high-speed Internet and furnished with top-of-the-line equipment so that Filipinos can trade in real time with the rest of the world. Matt Varona, a partner at Locsin Architecture, adds that this upgrade both “lifts the morale of the nation...and brings the country to a global standard.”
With all their projects, the designers at Locsin Architecture are aware that their work, especially in a developing country like the Philippines, has important environmental and utilitarian aspects. After all, they use natural resources to provide shelter and create infrastructure—and so they have to be responsible in that manner. Their work also has an emotional and cultural aspect that they want to engage in responsibly. Locsin realizes that architecture is a “powerful language” that can be used as social commentary to be “expressive of what a place is about.” If so, then the PSE Tower is an eloquent poem about how hope, unity, and progress are within our reach.
Photos by Toto Labrador