HOW HIGH

Malaysia 2017 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | FOCUS: MERDEKA PNB 118

The PNB118 tower will become the tallest in the nation upon its completion and give Kuala Lumpur's skyline another symbol of its economic development.

The PNB118 tower currently under construction in Kuala Lumpur is set to become the new defining piece of the capital's skyline. Funded by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Malaysia's biggest fund-management company, the tower is scheduled to open in 2019. At 118 stories tall and 682m high, PNB118 will become the third-tallest building in the world upon completion. The skyscraper's design is based on an iconic photograph of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first prime minister, raising his hand. Located southeast of Kuala Lumpur's historic section, PNB118 will have 400,000sqm of residential and commercial space. It is the planned centerpiece of a MYR6 billion development called Warison Merdeka that will include four smaller residential towers and a shopping mall. The complete development is expected to create 10,000 jobs over the course of this construction. Contractor Samsung C&T signed a USD842 million deal in 2015 to manage the construction work; it will work in conjunction with local contractor UEM to oversee the construction process. The South Korean firm was chosen due its technical expertise and previous experience working on the Burj Khalifa and the Petronas Towers, which were both the tallest skyscrapers in the world upon their completion.

Malaysia's commercial real estate market has been uneven in recent years, but floor space in the tower is expected to sell easily due to the tower's status. State-owned fund manager PNB will have the majority of the building, with 60 stories set aside for the financial firm and its subsidiaries. 20 floors have been reserved for a 250-room luxury hotel, and 20 additional stories have been allocated for various other multinationals. The tower will also include an observation deck, 105 elevators and escalators, recreational facilities, and parking for up to 5,000 cars. The project has received criticism from parties concerned about the cost and economic practicality of the project, but project officials believe the building will have strong positive effects on the surrounding region.

Current plans are for PNB118 to include green features that will allow the building to apply for triple platinum sustainability certification under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Initiatives (GBI), and Malaysian GreenRE programs. The tower's design calls for unique energy optimization strategies, including specialized cooling systems to counter solar exposures, solar photovoltaic arrays, and site-appropriate vegetation and water collection facilities to manage rainwater.

The project broke ground in 2016. Reports later surfaced that the project had run into problems with the laying of the foundation, but PNB issued a statement that the project was still within budget and on schedule. Teck Guan Lim, Managing Director for Doka Malaysia, one of the project's subcontractors, explained to TBY how new innovative technological measures will be implemented to aid in the project's construction. “We have brought in our latest innovation, Doka Intelligent Formwork, using Doka Concremote, into Merdeka PNB118 project. This technology can measure concrete strength development and transmit this data to the relevant stakeholders via smartphones. This ensures the high-quality construction of the structure, thus enhancing the lifespan of the asset.”

The KL tower will represent the continuation of a period of economic development that has seen Kuala Lumpur become a commercial and financial hub in Southeast Asia. Beginning in the early 1990s, the capital's skyline was transformed as new building projects projected Malaysia's wealth and economic might to the world. The constructions of the Petronas Kuala Lumpur towers in the mid-1990s brought two iconic structures to the skyline. All signs indicate that PNB118 will be the next addition and the newest piece of Malaysia's cultural heritage.