Raffles City grew out of a 32-acre mixed-use planning project undertaken to transform a third world barge-based port of trade into a modern international center of banking and commerce. The client, the government of Singapore, decided to proceed in phases, beginning with the commercial district: an 8.5-acre superblock. The 4 million-square-foot development was, and remained, I.M. Pei’s largest building project. Upon completion in 1986, it was the largest private commercial development in Southeast Asia.
The complex includes four towers, among them the world’s tallest hotel (72 stories), a 70-story office tower, a 39-story apartment building, and an exclusive twin-tower hotel (28 stories), as well as a 5,000-person convention hall, meeting rooms, nearly 1 million-square-feet of retail, recreational facilities, mass transit and underground parking for 3,000 cars. All of the towers rise from a 7-story podium with a skylit atrium that integrates the whole, leading to and from its varied functions. The aluminum curtain wall serves the same unifying role on the exterior, and anticipates Singapore’s high-tech future.
Designed to simplify the very complex, this “city within the city” is organized in a 9-square plan, carved away and rotated 45 degrees so that it angles back from the street rather than present a 600-foot-long broadside wall on four sides. Apparent bulk is diminished by breaking down the huge mass into smaller components, by positioning the tallest tower in relation to the padang (the cricket field and ceremonial center of Singapore), and shifting away from the historic Raffles Hotel where Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and other literary greats wrote exotic tales of the Far East.
Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Partner; Ralph Heisel, Design Architect; Kellogg Wong, Project Architect
I.M. Pei & Partners