Before we continue our journey along Ayala Avenue, you may have noticed from the previous installment and more up ahead that there seems to be a distinction regarding the buildings along this thoroughfare, which is pretty much the case for many of the buildings in the Makati CBD.
Generally, these buildings are classified into two eras: those built from the beginning of the Makati CBD in the 1960s until the 1980s which are less than 30 storeys tall and the ones built from the 1990s onwards that are 30 storeys and above. Why such a height discrepancy and why do they fall in these particular periods? That is because until around the late 1980s, building regulations restricted the height of these Makati buildings, initially at less than 20 storeys in the 1960s but was gradually increased. One of the reasons for this was Makati’s proximity to the airport in the Pasay/Parañaque area as tall buildings would get in the way of planes landing there. Not to mention it was because, reportedly, because the fire trucks would not be able to reach higher buildings and that was a period before fire preventing tech like sprinklers became better.
But sometime in the late 1980s, the restrictions were eventually eased for Makati and the height restrictions were narrowed down to the immediate area surrounding the airport like the reclaimed areas of Pasay and Parañaque and the core Fort Bonifacio area (excluding Bonifacio Global City but including McKinley Hill and McKinley West). This led to the construction boom in the area especially by the 1990s as well have seen in the previous part and later on here.
From Paseo de Roxas to Rufino Street – north side
Starting from the north/westbound side, the first building we see at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas is also the oldest building in the Makati CBD, the Insular Life Building, which we’ve covered already here so check it out. It also serves as a study of contrasts with the shorter, classic building that is Insular Life standing beside a much taller and contemporary design of its neighbor next door.
Completed in 2002, Robinsons Summit Center stands at 38 storeys and 174 meters in height. It was designed by American architectural firm HOK and its Filipino partner, W.V. Coscolluela and Associates. One interesting to note is that despite bearing the name of its developer the Robinsons group, as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t serve as a head office of any of the Robinsons companies, save perhaps for the presence of a convenience store owned by the group. Perhaps the building serves more of a prestige statement for Robinsons as part of their portfolio. Or perhaps there are Robinsons companies there that I’m not aware of.
Beside it is the KPMG Center, the home office of the Philippine operations of global accounting firm KPMG. Listings say it was inaugurated in 2009 but the building’s history is very much older, maybe around the late 1960s or early 1970s. You see it was formerly known as the Prudential Bank Center which was the head office of Prudential Bank which was established in 1952 by Roman Santos whose family owned the Santos-Andres House that is known for being painstakingly relocated from Malabon to Antipolo. In fact, the design of the building is patterned after the design of the Roman Santos Building in Santa Cruz, Manila where Prudential Bank was founded as well. Prudential Bank was eventually acquired by BPI in 2005 (which explains the BPI branch there) and the building underwent extensive renovations which made it look a bit more contemporary, not to mention having a dedicated fastfood restaurant tenant.
Beside it is another skyscraper, (making KPMG’s midget size all the more apparent) the Tower 6789. It is notable for being one of the newer buildings to rise in the area, completed in 2013, 35 storeys high, and the one of the tallest in Ayala Avenue at 185 meters. Prior to it having been built, it actually had been an empty lot for a long while. Its architect is Wong & Ouyang, an architectural firm from Hong Kong which designed a lot of contemporary buildings in Hong Kong and is also responsible for the design of the Grand Hyatt Manila hotel in Bonifacio Global City. It was known before as the Alphaland Makati Tower after its developer Alphaland (which also developed the controversial Alphaland Makati Place) but was eventually turned over to its partner Ashmore.
A much shorter structure follows it, the Vicente Madrigal Building at 10 storeys high, which was built in 1980. (some suggest it was built in 1990 but I doubt it given the architecture and the height of the building) It is owned by the landed Madrigal family and it was named after the family’s famed patriarch, businessman and politician Vicente Madrigal, who was a contemporary of Manuel Quezon.
Wrapping up this part of Ayala Avenue is the tallest building in Ayala Avenue and, for a long while, the tallest in the country. I’m talking about the PBCom Tower at 55 storeys and 259 meters in height. Completed in 2000, the building was designed by GF & Partners, an architectural firm founded by notable Filipino architect Gabriel Formoso (hence the GF) who designed notable buildings like the Lepanto Building and the Asian Institute of Management, both along Paseo de Roxas (perhaps a Paseo de Roxas tour might be next?). US firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill also had a hand in the design.
PBCom Tower is home to many outsourcing companies in the country but it primarily serves as the home of PBCom, the Philippine Bank of Communications. Mind you, PBCom is not on the same level in terms of revenue and public consciousness as the likes of BPI, Metrobank, or BDO but it managed to build the tallest building in the country for a time so that’s quite an achievement for them.
From Paseo de Roxas to Rufino Street – south side
Now we go to the south/eastbound side of this part of Ayala Avenue, which is known as the “bank block” simply because many of the buildings in this side serve as headquarters of various banks, if not at least the center of some of its important operations. First on this block coming from Paseo de Roxas is actually in a state of transition at this time of writing, the Bank of the Philippine Islands Building which is being demolished to build a new and better home for the bank in that address. Prior to its demolition, the old BPI building was 20 storeys high and may have been completed by the 1980s or 1990s. Here’s hoping the new BPI headquarters will be an iconic landmark befitting the bank’s history and the prestige of the address than what the old BPI building had to offer, which was honestly uninspiring compared to the older Insular Life Building across it.
Right next to it is the VGP Center, said to have been built in 1970 and stands at 13 storeys high. VGP stands for the initials of Vicente G. Puyat, one of the key people behind Manila Bank which was headquartered in that building. Technically, Manila Bank was founded by his father, businessman turned senator Gil Puyat (the same guy Buendia Avenue was renamed after) in the 1960s but was shut down initially in 1987 due to financial difficulties as a result of giving out bad loans. It eventually managed to reopen in 1999 as a thrift bank and was eventually acquired by Chinabank to serve as the foundation of its thrift bank operations that we know today as China Bank Savings, thus the presence of the bank in the building.
Beside it is the Security Bank Building, a 20-storey building constructed in the 1990s and underwent renovation in the 2010s to make it look a bit more contemporary befitting the digital thrust its owner, Security Bank, went through beginning that period.
Next is the Metrobank Card Corporation Center, the head office of Metrobank’s credit card arm. Not much information is available but it may have been built in the 1990s or earlier and is at 13 storeys high. Beside it is the 6780 Ayala Avenue building, which is at 15 storeys and may have been built in the 1970 if one resource is to be believed.
Rounding off this block is the SSS Makati Building, also known as the Sarmiento Building. Completed in 1966, it is one of the oldest buildings in the Makati CBD and, as the name suggests, is owned by the government, particular by the Social Security System. At this time of writing, the 13-storey building is undergoing massive renovation work.
To be continued…