BGC Central

The Heart of Bonifacio Global City – Part 2 (From High Street Central to the western segment)

Given the success of Bonifacio High Street, the Ayala Group wasted no time in developing the rest of the Central Bonifacio Global City. Of course, the natural progression of this BGC Central story would be to extend the Bonifacio High Street concept further, which was realized in 2014.

High Street Central and environs

In developing what would become Bonifacio High Street Central, it would have been a no-brainer to duplicate the setup of Bonifacio High Street and call it a day. But the developers and architectural partner Aidea went for a different route. For one, they took advantage of the sloping terrain to create retail areas with two levels all throughout.

And right in the middle, they designed an open-air amphitheater, which descends alongside the terrain, and the stage below also serving as the activity grounds which serve as the heart of BHS Central.

On top of that (literally and figuratively), there are also two large LED screens on the opposite ends of the bridgeway connecting the retail areas at the upper level. On special occasions, one can view films and other recorded performances on both screens.

Of course, the artworks found in the area are a must-see, especially those found at the parking areas.

Then there is the Central Square mall located at the northwestern end of BHS Central which is a bit of an oddity. For one, its appearance does not really blend with the other buildings in the area and it’s not just the fact that it’s 4 storeys high. It’s the fact that it has that typical boxed mall look that is devoid of character that the other retail buildings have. It was a missed opportunity to do something a bit more unique like what they did to Bonifacio High Street and High Street Central.

The non-retail building found in this segment is the Maybank Corporate Center, home of the Philippine operations of Malaysian-based bank Maybank. Completed in 2013, it has a modest 5 levels with a more contemporary look that makes it unique from the regular bank headquarter buildings.

The western segment

The last phase of the development of BGC Central is what is called the western segment. Unlike Bonifacio High Street and BHS Central, there is no singular landmark that defines the area. So let’s look at each of these landmarks one by one.

The first to be developed in this area is the Shangri-La at the Fort of the Shangri-La group which opened in 2016. At 250 meters in height, 61 floors, 576 rooms and suites for guests, 97 residential units, (it has a residential component BTW) and 9 dining choices, it is not only the largest Shangri-La property in the country, but is also one of the tallest buildings in the country as well. It is big enough to have its own sports plaza that boasts not only an indoor basketball court, swimming pool, and gym, but also tennis courts, squash courts (a rarity in the country), and a large children’s activity area.

Right in the middle is the open green space called the Green Spine which gradually descends onto 3rd Avenue and the Mind Museum right across it. If there’s one thing that defines this entire BGC Central area, it’s the green and open spaces found right in the middle, forming this linear oasis in the middle of the district.

Across Shangri-La at the Fort and the Green Spine is One Bonifacio HIgh Street. Completed in 2017, One Bonifacio High Street is comprised of three components: retail with One Bonifacio High Street Mall, residential with The Suites at One Bonifacio High Street, and office/business space with the Philippine Stock Exchange Tower.

Firstly, no…the Philippine Stock Exchange Tower is not the same as the Philippine Stock Exchange Center in Pasig or the big trading floor in Makati. Rather, this 30-storey building is the new unified headquarters of the Philippine Stock Exchange, thus ending years of separate operations. (as a sidenote, the Pasig site has now reverted to its original name Tektite Towers) One thing to note though is the trading floor in the new PSE Tower is smaller compared to what it had in Makati. PSE explains that this reflects the fact that most trading in the PSE these days is done online, thus no longer necessitating the need for a giant trading floor. It also affirmed the status of Bonifacio Global City as the new financial center of Metro Manila, though Makati may dispute that one.

PSE Tower’s LED ticker screen
The sculpture in front of the PSE Tower is called “Path to Prosperity”, a work by by Ovvian Castrillo-Hill, daughter of the late sculptor Eduardo Castrillo

The Suites at One Bonifacio High Street is noted to be the tallest residential tower in the whole BGC area. In fact, at 227 meters and 63 storeys, it is just behind Shangri-La at the Fort in terms of height as far as BGC structures are concerned.

Finally, there is the One Bonifacio High Street Mall, a 4-level shopping mall that serves as the podium for the PSE Tower and The Suites. Unlike Central Square, One Bonifacio High Street Mall’s design is at least more well thought out, complementing quite well with Shangri-La at the Fort right across it. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the 3D LED billboard it is sporting, akin to those seen in New York City’s Times Square and Tokyo’s Shibuya district. It also happens to be the first 3D-LED naked-eye digital billboard installed in the country.

All in all, BGC Central has turned out to be one of the most vibrant areas in Bonifacio Global City. It is a welcome respite from the urbanization madness going all over the district and a testament to what a well-developed cityscape should be that everyone deserves to have.

Acknowledgements as well to KMC Savills, Wikipedia, Shangri-La, Ayala Land Premier, and Manila Bulletin

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