OCBC Centre

Text by Kelly Koh

The first design by an internationally renowned architect in Singapore, I.M. Pei's OCBC Centre remains the stalwart guardian of Singapore's skyline, its volumetric facade lending it a commanding presence against the diaphanous surfaces of newer constructions

OCBC Centre in the 1970s (Photo source: Singapore Institute of Architects)

A part of the URA’s land sales projects, the OCBC Centre was the first building involving international architects in Singapore, opening the gates of the country to the contributions of other distinguished architects. Designed by I.M. Pei, the building was Singapore’s tallest building at the time, and an exemplar of innovative construction technology which allowed it to be completed in less than 2 years.

I.M. Pei's OCBC Centre in Singapore under construction

The building consists of a heavy structural frame supporting three intermediate transverse girders. The large semi-circular reinforced concrete cores were constructed ahead of the transfer girders, which were simultaneously prefabricated off site. These trusses were brought on site following the progress of core construction to be loaded, with the main load transfer girders post tensioned on site.

Architectural sections of I.M. Pei's OCBC Centre in Singapore

Fondly referred to as the calculator because of its flat appearance and protruding “button” like floors, the building continues to hold its own in the Singapore skyline, its articulated volumes distinguishing it from its younger and taller counterparts.