Part of my childhood in Pateros, then a small municipality in the east of Metro Manila, about 13 kilometers from the capital Manila, I and my high school classmates would sometimes foray in the adjacent Makati City. We considered it an urban adventure of sorts. Pateros was kind of rurban, part of the urban sprawl but retaining some provincial characteristics. Makati City, particularly Ayala Center in its central business district, was an enticing attraction, along with Cubao in Quezon City. A hulking gray structure, SM Department Store was the one of the biggest malls then. Nearby were rows of stores and boutiques. Glorietta was more of an expansive but drab park with a small cluster of stores in the middle. Alemar’s Bookstore was a favorite.
Over the years, this area in Makati City has experienced many changes, transforming itself into a dynamic and beautiful city destination with modern and intriguing architecture, pocket gardens and parks, numerous shopping and dining choices, events happening almost everyday, etc., and becoming the Philippines’ loveliest urban development inside the country’s leading financial hub. It is uplifting to note that complementing the progress is the space given to arts and culture with such institutions as the Ayala Museum and the Filipinas Heritage Library and with regular cultural events being held in different parts of the area.
Recently, the Ayala Center, already branding itself as a cosmopolitan lifestyle hub, has become diverse in its developments. Three big hotels—Fairmont Hotel, Raffles Suites and Residences, Holiday Inn and Suites—were opened. Many people are making this area their home with the rise of upscale residential projects such as The Residences of Greenbelt, Park Terraces and Garden Towers. The Residences at Greenbelt and Park Terraces are now fully sold, while Garden Towers is already at 77 percent. The Residences at Greenbelt has about 2,800 residents living in Ayala Center, and the first residents of Park Terraces will move in by March 2015.
Ayala Center continues to grow in 2015 and beyond with the expansion of retail spaces, the building of two new hotels including Ayala Land’s own Seda brand, two office towers and a public transit terminal. Crowning these developments is a new business convention facility. These are all part of a big redevelopment plans of Ayala Land, which owns and manages Ayala Center, for the surrounding areas.
In 2012, Ayala Land earmarked P60 billion for redevelopment with the launch of the city’s Make It Happen, Make It Makati campaign. Now, an additional P65 billion was committed for the grander second phase of the redevelopment, which will start in 2016 and will continue for the next five years.
“What we established then was that Makati will always remain our top priority—our crown jewel, our largest source of value, our most important asset,” announced Meean Dy, vice president and group head of the Strategic Landbank Management Group of Ayala Land.
During the launch in 2012, Ayala Land presented the master plan and design, echoing the philosophy of many Ayala Land mixed-use projects in the country. The design caters to the currently lifestyle, addressing the many facets of modern living and acknowledging their being integral to each other. The goal was to create a quality environment not just for business. For that, main “themes” were identified for several areas, coming up with “nodes.”
“What you have in Makati is a work and life balance,” Mel Ignacio, assistant vice president of Ayala Land, explained. “The idea of work-and-life equilibrium also appeals to other Filipinos which is why two years ago, via the Make It Happen, Make It Makati campaign, Ayala Land announced its plans to invest P60 billion pesos in the development of six nodes in Makati. We embarked on the development of six nodes because we wanted to cater to a broader market base.”
“There will always be a place to eat, to work, to live, to relax—all within a short walk. This is what we aim to achieve with the six nodes,” Dy added.
The six nodes are the McKinley Exchange, the transport hub; the Ayala Center, the lifestyle cosmopolitan hub; the Makati Central Business District, the business hub of the country; Ayala Triangle Gardens, the urban oasis; City Gate, the young and creative hub; and Circuit Makati, the entertainment hub.
In the next several years, Makati City will be changing its face as new structures are built and the landscape redesigned
According to Joel Luna, head of Innovations and Design Group of Ayala Land, the design of the development follows the design of most of their flagship and signature projects, the root of which traces to their principals, who are very involved in the design. Ayala Land has been known for the designs of its structures, as well as the seamless fusion of the natural and built environments and the use of open space.
“I would like to assume probably it’s more of the feel that you get, not so much the form or color or the aesthetic treatment. That’s how I like to think on what makes our projects different. It’s more of the experience ‘pag pasok. Because if you look at different projects, we use the same finishes, sometimes the same architect,” said Luna. “To my mind, it is also the way we inject the civic spaces in our projects. And we add a different feel to each place.”
He further said: “What we wanted to do is sort of create a little bit of diversity, different types of activities. That’s the idea behind the nodes. Each one is a destination. While we want to make sure that each destination has the same elements like officies, condominiums, the retail, the residential, civic space, we tried to give each a certain focus. So Ayala Center has a little bit more of shopping and commercial…So Makati will have multiple destinations that many visitors will be interested in.”
More than shopping at the Ayala Center
The Ayala Center is still the premiere shopping hub of Makati City. The recent developments, which started in 2009 and was completed in 2012—increasing the gross floor area by 23 percent or 228,000 square meters—have seen the rise of new hotels, which brought the number of hotel rooms in the area to about 3,000, and residential spaces. This has lent a more leisurely and varied vibe to the area in general.
Further redevelopment will cover 2.5 hectares of land and will include the Ayala Avenue-Edsa corner of the district, which will see the rise of retail spaces, two new hotels including Seda, two office towers and a public transit terminal that improves the link of the MRT with city buses along Edsa and internal transit within the Central Business District.
Redevelopment in the area includes the InterContinental Manila Hotel, which raised concerns among several architects and heritage conservationists because the 45-year-old hotel is the work of National Artist for architecture Leandro Locsin, protected under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009. Ayala Land stated that it is coordinating with the Leandro V. Locsin Partners and heritage conservation groups in this matter.
Breathing space at Ayala Triangle Gardens
A sizable green space in Makati City is the Ayala Triangle Gardens (ATG), which has recently become a venue for the city’s two signature events: Makati Independence Day and Christmas Lights and Sound Show. Thus, the area is designated as a place for gatherings and celebrations against a backdrop of greenery. A healthy and active lifestyle is also being promoted here. Moreover, ATG is home to a heritage structure, the Neilson Tower, the only pre-World War II building in the central business district, built in 1937. The area has the distinction of being the first airport in Luzon and one of the first international airports in Asia. Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas, which border two sides of ATG, were actually once runways for planes. The control tower of the Neilson Airport, the Neilson Tower became a police headquarters, the office of the Integrated Property Management Corporation, Nielson Tower Club and Restaurant, the Filipinas Heritage Library and now the restaurant Blackbird of Scottish chef Colin McKay.
Blackbird will be joined by more dining outlets, as well as shops in the redevelopment, which is concentrated at the northern tip of the Ayala Triangle. Additionally, by the end of the year, ATG will be breaking ground for a new office tower as well as the new 275-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel, actually across the original one which closed on September 9, 2014. The 38-year-old Mandarin Oriental Hotel is another work of Locsin, which is also being discussed about with heritage conservation groups together with the InterContinental Manila Hotel.
On the other hand, the office tower will be an addition to the Tower One and Exchange Plaza, which was built 20 years ago. It will have 80,000 square meters of office space.
Youthful vibe at the City Gate
The area where Ayala Avenue meets Gil Puyat Avenue is called the City Gate, which will be a mixed-use development geared toward the younger set with a creative and edgy atmosphere.
The initial phase will have roughly 81,000 square meters of office space and 14,000 square meters of retail outlets, punctuated by a 312-room Seda hotel. The heart of this development is a 2,600-square meter civic space that will be built vertically through a series of terraces. This will be connected to the Makati Commercial Estate Association’s existing elevated walkway along Dela Rosa Street, which will extend to Makati Medical Center. This walkway will traverse all three blocks of City Gate all the way to the other side of Gil Puyat where a pedestrian bridge will cross to the Makati Post Office side.
Sports and entertainment at Circuit Makati
Once a venue for entertainment, the old Santa Ana Racetrack is being redeveloped into another entertainment district although modern and with a myriad choices. With the name Circuit Makati, the 22-hectare and P20-billion project acknowledges the heritage of the area as a former racing circuit.
Circuit Makati is envisioned to have world-class performance venues, as well as sports facilities, aside from residential spaces, retail units, offices and a hotel. The 2,000-square meter Globe Circuit Events Ground is a canopied outdoor venue for large events such as concerts and festivals.
Another performance venue is the Circuit Performing Arts Theater, which can seat 1,500 people and is set to rival the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Set to open in 2017, the Circuit Performing Arts Theater will showcase Filipino theatre talents, as well as Broadway-style shows and musical and dance performances. For intimate affairs, the 300-seat Blackbox Theater will open by April 2015 at the 10,000-square meter Circuit Lane, a walk studded with eclectic shops that will run beside the Pasig River all through the center of the district.
For sporting events, there is a football turf with a two-hectare ground, which can accommodate up to 20,000 people. Launched in 2013, it has hosted events such as the Gatorade-Chelsea Blue Pitch, Mountain Dew Skate Park and City Kart Racing.
In 2016, the 60,000-square meter Circuit Mall will be opened, another venue for shopping, dining and movie-watching. The landmark residential development here is the high-rise Solstice by Alveo Land.
|Circuit Makati meet-and-greet space|
|The Circuit Performing Arts Theater|
|The Ayala Triangle Gardens|
|The Ayala Triangle Gardens' planned development including a new Mandarin Oriental Manila Hotel|
|The Ayala Triangle Gardens|
|The Ayala Triangle Gardens|
|Civic space at the Circuit Makati|
|The Circuit Black Box Theater|
|The Circuit Lane|
|The City Gate|
|The Holiday Inn and Suites|
|Christmas lights at the Ayala Triangle Gardens|
|The Raffles Suites and Fairmont Hotel|
|The Tower One|
When the redevelopment is finished, Makati City undoubtedly will be a paragon of urban development in the country, one that integrates the different facets of today’s lifestyle, as well as nurtures the passions and persuasions of its visitors and residents. The revitalized Makati City will be gleaming, attracting more people ever to its light, and it will always be an exciting urban adventure.
For more information, visit Make It Makati’s official pages: www.makeitmakati.com, www.facebook.com/makeitmakati and www.twitter.com/makeitmakati.