Too Little, Too Late? Locsin-Designed Building Demolition Halted 'Halfway' Through
When it comes to brutalist architecture in Metro Manila, one may recall the Manila Film Center in Pasay City, Faura Hall at Ateneo de Manila University, or, hey, even the KFC Greenhills branch along EDSA. However, an undeniable pillar of the imposingly cold and concrete style of architecture in the Philippines comes through the work of National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin, who designed brutalist buildings such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines along Roxas Boulevard, the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay, and the BDO Corporate Center along Makati Avenue.
The latter of which, the North and South towers of the BDO Corporate Center, were issued for demolition by the BDO-Unibank in December 2021. The BDO Corporate Towers, formerly known as the PCI Bank Towers, previously held concerts and stage performances in the South Tower's Francisco Santiago Hall theater and also served as the headquarters for BDO, and previously PCI Bank, in Makati.
Nine months after the issuance of a Building Demolition Permit, the tearing down of the BDO Corporate Center has been halted due to a cease-and-desist order granted to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts on the demolition of the landmark.
Locsin-Designed BDO Corporate Center Halts Demolition
As reported by Brutalist Pilipinas on Facebook, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts has ordered a cease-and-desist on the demolition of the BDO Corporate Center Demolition in Makati. The order notes that the BDO Corporate Towers are Important Cultural Properties as they are works of the National Artist for Architecture Locsin that are still distinctive examples of his "later phase architectural language."
This highlights that the buildings have not been delisted as Important Cultural Properties (ICPs) prior to demolition beginning, which would go against Republic Act No. 10066, a National Cultural Heritage law that "prohibits demolition, modification, or alteration of presumed ICPs," as detailed in the letter.
BDO Corporate Center is located at Makati Avenue corner Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Bel-Air, Makati City.
Brutalist Pilipinas' report also notes that the South Tower is already "halfway demolished," which makes this quite literally a "glass half-empty, glass half-full" scenario, but with a cold, monochrome, concrete building.
In a similar case, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone company recently filed a petition to have the Ramon Cojuangco Building, another work of Locsin., to be delisted as an ICP. This effectively allows its demolition, following an argument that it "does not demonstrate exceptional cultural, artistic, and historical significance," according to an assessment submitted to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Should BDO-Unibank get a petition with similar reasoning to be approved, then the demolition of the BDO Corporate Center towers is likely to continue.