As the holder and protector of fiscal assets, a high-profile international bank succeeds by showing responsibility and fair dealing to all. It makes sense, then, when a respected bank's expanding retail resources are centralised, it is in a progressive, environmentally in tune, people-friendly tower.
CIMB is one of Southeast Asia's most recognised, fastest-growing commercial banks, with expanded real estate needs resulting from the acquisition of two heritage financial organisations Southern Bank and Bumiputra-Commerce Bank. This expansion has led CIMB to bring 3500 staff together on one inner-city site and provided the opportunity to secure a high-rise building that would give back to staff and clients in the form of an optimum banking environment. The resulting design comprises a four-level basement car park, amenities on the lower ground floor, a banking plaza on the upper ground floor, a banking hall on the mezzanine, first and second floors, and offices and executive floors rising above that.
The 37-storey Menara Bumiputra-Commerce (MBC) tower was designed by ATSA Architects, with the interior fit-out project managed by ISG Asia. For ISG Asia this involved liaising with three design firms the podium interior design was by NTribe Chew, the general offices were designed by iPartnership, and the four executive floors were undertaken by M Moser Associates.
ATSA Architects project director Azmil Abdul Azmi says CIMB's motto is Forward banking' and that the tower reflects this in its location, aesthetics, versatile floorplates and environment-friendly interiors.
"MBC tower is situated in a grouping of established financial institutions including the EPF Employees Provident Fund HQ and UOB Bank," says Azmi.
Nestled among some of the most recognisable buildings in the world, MBC holds its own. The structure is in reinforced concrete, with metal cladding and a royal blue curtain wall system echoing the bank's corporate colours. Two cores anchor the tower and contrast the transparency of the curtain wall.
Azmi says addressing the existing urban context was vital to the public's perception of the new tower.
"We introduced a public plaza at the podium level, which opens up to the pedestrian walkway linking all sides of the building, and is in close proximity to a cafe pavilion, the LRT station and the bustling Jalan Jaja Laut," says Azmi. "The entire area is lively and welcoming for bank staff, customers and passers-by alike."
In terms of business presence, a double-height atrium and glass walls allow an open presence. The cafe and electronic banking centres, together with the food court, are located at street level. Public areas are finished in marble and granite the look is formal and contemporary, all in line with the corporate image of the bank.
With regard to business efficiency and the future, the tower presents versatile floor layouts planned on a grid and divided into three sections around the two cores. Each section presents over 550m² of net usable space.
ISG Asia's Malaysian country director Paul Marshall says the bank's goal of being employer of choice saw more was on offer than easily reconfigurable offices.
"Parallel aspects of the project included extensive meeting room facilities, myriad comfortable breakout and cafeteria areas, a multipurpose hall, a library, a gymnasium, a food court and future space allocation for a creche within the facility," says Marshall. "While this tower presents a look forward to a bright future for CIMB, it also addresses the needs and wellbeing of the hundreds of employees who come here each day."
In undertaking the interior design of the podium of the MBC tower, NTribe Chew's task was to interpret and reflect the bank's focus on balancing a local sensibility with an international outlook.
Given an area of 23,225m², including all 38 lift lobbies and six podium floors, the challenge was to implement a unifying, consistent design statement, says project director Huey Chew.