Customizing a Mixed-Use Building in Real Time: The Finance Centre Tower 
07.2.2014
Aleksandar Sasha Zeljic in Commercial Office Buildings, One World Place

A rendering of the Finance Centre Tower. Image © Gensler

The Finance Centre Tower is Daiichi Properties’ latest addition to the Fort Bonifacio Global City Skyline. Fort Bonifacio Global City is the emerging central business district in the Philippines capital of Manila. It is representative of the accelerated economic growth of the Philippines, which is currently the second strongest in the Asia after China’s. This growth has stemmed from the country’s burgeoning service sector, which is generating an increased number of jobs and growing the demand for commercial and office real estate. Because places like Fort Bonifacio need more commercial office buildings, the property market in Bonifacio Global City has been significantly bolstered in recent years.

Daiichi properties hired Gensler to design the Finance Centre Tower, Daiichi’s fourth office building in the area. The 44-story office tower broke ground on June 5th and is currently under construction. When finished, it will serve as the landmark building for Daiichi Properties. This pioneering tower will have five levels of basement parking and five levels of podium parking. It will feature ground floor and second floor retail space; food and beverage outfits on the eighth floor; health and wellness amenities; 31-levels of office space; a penthouse level and executive offices; and mechanical deck floors. A fully unitized curtain wall combining glass and aluminum composite panels will cover the building’s curved facade on all sides. This exterior will give the Finance Centre Tower a unique visual identity and distinguish it from similar buildings dotting this burgeoning mixed-use hub in Bonifacio Global City.

The Finance Centre Tower presented a unique design challenge for the Gensler team. Our team needed to develop an iterative design process capable of accommodating direct client input in real time. Daiichi Properties and the Gensler design team worked in tandem to envision a unique building form and to ensure that the final layout could respond to various planning needs of future tenants. The tower distributes specific zones vertically in the building, creating an efficient model for tall building design.

At the onset, the Gensler team created a custom interface set via a computer program called Grasshopper. This allowed our designers to rapidly conceive thousands of viable and customizable form options. The process began with the input of building design drivers produced during visioning session with Daiichi in Manila. These design criterias included drivers such as overall building height, size, leasing spans, variable floor plate sizes with minimum and maximum footprints, shape type, etc. All held significant ramifications for the building’s final form. We also decided to maximize the tower's height by optimizing the gross floor area in the vertical plane.

A Custom Interface with Design Criteria Diagram in Grasshopper. Image © Gensler

To streamline the process, the Gensler team formulated another custom interface that allowed us to create mass iterations for specific aspects of the project. This interface gave us the ability to modify and flex the building’s form and to generate rapid prototype models so that we could better understand how specific details, from square meters per floor to height, would influence the final design. We then established a feedback loop of information between the design team and Daiichi Properties team to ensure all parties understood the final output each design decision would yield. We employed “genetic algorithms” via a program called Galapagos to help handle the mass iterations. Harnessing the power of these computer programs working n tandem ranted us the capability to generate a significant number of possible design outcomes, each one of them unique and capable of addressing a specific tenant need.

A screen shot of the “Genetic Algorithm” process performed in Galapagos. Image © Gensler

The design team then preselected a more curated list of what we deemed the best possible design solutions. We presented the list to the Daiichi Properties, and they selected a final form. This process not only allowed us to quickly explore far more options than a traditional design method would have, it offered us greater flexibility in a fraction of time. Our selected scheme was then further analyzed, and we confirmed that it programmatically fit all proposed design criteria. The final design resulted from a series of synthesized metrics developed in collaborative manner with the client in real time, rather than a predetermined form. It also conformed to all prescribed design criteria set by Daiichi Properties. The Finance Centre Tower will meet a LEED Gold rating.

A preselected list of tower options, all meeting design criteria’s with final scheme highlighted. Image © Gensler

By creating a system that allowed us to constantly collaborate with our client in real time, we not only met all criteria for the project but ultimately developed a much better design product than what we would have arrived at using more conventional methods. The availability of data and the power of advanced computer programs can help designers and clients generate a higher number of customized design solutions. This type of high-speed prototyping collaboration mimics the rapid economic growth taking place throughout the Philippines, and it is becoming reality on how design will happen in the future. Daiichi Properties embraced that strategy and will soon have its new landmark building on the Manila skyline.

Sasha Zeljic is the regional practice area leader for Tall Buildings and Commercial Office Buildings Developers in Gensler's Chicago office. He also serves as a Design Director in North Central Region. Sasha is focused on performance aspects on the building design and delivery process.Contact him at aleksandar_zeljic@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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