Buttoned-down building

Even in real estate, appearances are not what they seem.

Lovingly referred to as the “toilet-paper-roll building” by Singaporeans, Temasek Tower is a landmark that has a history as buttoned-down and business-like as the city-state it calls home.

Built in 1986 and originally known as the Singapore Treasury Building, the 52-story tower overlooks Shenton Way, Singapore’s answer to Wall Street. When the Ministry of Finance relocated to its new offices at 100 High Street, the building was renamed Temasek Tower.

The building’s current and former tenants are reflective of the city’s own history of business and politics. Singapore’s current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, once had his office on the 48th floor of the building. Other tenants have included the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, JPMorgan Chase, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bain and Company and Cisco Systems.

The building has a leasable area of approximately 670,200 square feet and features two floors of retail space and three levels of indoor parking. The tower also has plenty of amenities for the busy executive or government official, including conference rooms, a gymnasium, swimming pool and the China Club,
an exclusive, members-only club located on the top floor.

The building—which is reported to be the tallest cylindrical building in the world—is itself a feat of engineering. Arup, the engineering firm that designed the building, came up with a design that allowed the floors to remain column-free: The design consists of steel beams cantilevered from a cylindrical concrete core, allowing for the unobstructed panoramic views of the island. The building is also fitted out with 16 doubledecker elevators.

But the building isn’t all about work. Those elevators might have come in use in 2005 when the tower played host to the NTU Sports Club’s National Vertical Marathon, a 51-story race to the top of the building that drew 1,213 runners.

In March of this year, the tower changed hands when private equity real estate
firm Macquarie Global Property Advisors agreed to purchase Temasek Tower for
S$1.04 billion ($679 million; €505 million) from CapitaLand. The property was acquired as part of MGPA’s second fund, which closed in September 2005 with
$1.3 billion in equity. Singapore’s CapitaLand realized a reported gain of S$427 million on the Temasek Tower deal.