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Architecture and urban planning firm Jerde to open regional office in Singapore

Roppongi Hills in Tokyo (Credit: Jerde)

SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Los Angeles-based architecture and urban planning firm, The Jerde Partnership, has announced plans to open a new office in Singapore later this year. The  new office will be used as a launchpad to expand into Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

In fact, Jerde already has a presence in North Asia, having established offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The firm is behind the design of mixed-use, hospitality and retail spaces such as Langham Place in Hong Kong, Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, and D-Cube City in Seoul. Its recent project, the Grand Hyatt Sanya Haitang Bay in Hainan, China, is a MIPIM Asia Gold Award winner for Best Hotel and Tourism Development.

“Our firm has had great success in designing transformative projects throughout Asia. At this point, we see Southeast Asia holding great potential to expand our brand of architecture,” says Paul Martin-kovic, CEO of Jerde.

He cites Langham Place as an example of the value and placemaking experience the firm hopes to bring to Southeast Asia. Located in Mongkok, Hong Kong, the mixed-use development comprises a 42-storey hotel, a 59-storey office tower, and a 15-storey shopping and entertainment centre with more than 300 shops. The urban renewal project was completed in 2004 and costs HK$11 billion.

Martinkovic: We see Southeast Asia holding great potential to expand our brand of architecture (Credit: Jerde)

For this project, Jerde wanted to integrate Langham Place with the vibrant street culture in Mongkok. To this end, the development has multiple entry points at the street level and features a 60m-high grand atrium with views of the shopping and dining areas above.

The shopping mall also has one of Hong Kong’s longest indoor escalators at 76m, linking shoppers from the fourth floor to the 12th floor. A section of the shopping mall has been intentionally designed as a spiral to increase traffic and footfall at these stores, as shoppers who ride the escalator to the 12th floor will have to walk down the route created by the spiral to the lower floors.

“We’re different [from other design firms] in the sense that we design experiences,” says Martinkovic. “The architecture is important, but the main thing for us is how the user experiences the project. We call it the ‘space in-between’.”

He highlights that the focus on experience is becoming more important especially in retail, where physical stores are facing competition from e-commerce. “Retail stores are getting smaller and you see vacant stores in big malls, so [landlords] have to come up with different ideas on how to lease their space. One of the reasons why we are in Singapore is that a big part of our work will be on re-purposing and renovation of existing places,” he adds.

Currently, the firm is working on building brand awareness in the region as the bulk of its projects are still located outside Asia. To this end, the firm has appointed James Chew as director of business development for the region. Chew has more than 30 years of real-estate industry experience in planning and design management, marketing and business development. He also founded and owned master planning consultancies VinaPlanners Co Ltd and TPO Vietnam – Singapore. He was also previously the head of local planning at the URA.

James Chew has been appointed Jerde’s director of business development for the region (Credit: Jerde)

At Jerde, Chew says he hopes to “help the firm expand its special brand of placemaking to generate significant economic benefits to a host of new communities in Southeast Asia”.

Meanwhile, Jerde’s design principal and vice president Ken Ho, who is a Singaporean, will relocate from Los Angeles to Singapore early next year to help drive growth across the region.

Jerde’s design principal and vice president, Ken Ho, will relocate to Singapore early next year (Credit: Jerde)

Since joining the firm in 2000, he has worked on projects such as Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Waikiki Outrigger Retail Plaza in Honolulu, and Palms Place in Las Vegas.

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