Shangri-La

Handel Architects as Architects

Shangri-La at the Fort is a 1.4M SF (130,000 m2) vertically organized mixed-use project. The client mandated a very specific set of programmatic requirements, which included three unique Shangri-La products, plus extensive amenities, retail, fitness, support spaces, and parking. The extensive program needed to fit on a tight sight, with various components operating independently from one another. Security was also a major issue that needed to be addressed: all building access, pedestrian or vehicular, would require tight control. Vehicles would need special queuing for close visual inspection of cars, and all doors into any part of the building would need to be controlled by security teams. These strict requirements needed to be weighed against a sense of openness and welcome that guests and residents expect.


Handel Architects’ solution was to treat access to the site three dimensionally. The main hotel drop off has been elevated to an upper level, limiting access to fewer control points. The separate residential drop-off is a theatrical space organized around a central fountain, similar in nature to the grand theatrical stairs that grace the original Makati Shangri-La. The tower itself needed to create a presence on the skyline, while fitting the extensive program, in an area that had height restrictions. The building is composed of two long facades and two short ones, which slide away from one another depending on how the tower is viewed. This “shifting” breaks up the mass of the tower when viewed directly, and creates a stepped building when viewed at an angle.


The building podium includes one of the largest conference and meeting facilities in the city of Manila. It includes two ballrooms, the largest of which is a 1,650 square meter pillar-less Grand Ballroom. The ramped passageway splits the podium massing into two parts that are more contextual in size to neighboring sites. The 1,650 square meter main ballroom is located on the east podium, which is connected to the tower podium by three separate glass bridges.


Circulation challenges led to the creation of an elevated plaza that overlooks High Street. The plaza is accessed by a vehicular and pedestrian passageway located on 30th Street. Both the drop off and passageway are open to the air. The plaza is the heart of entire complex, and circulation and major spaces within the podium have been organized around it.


High Street requires covered retail arcades along its frontages. Working closely with local zoning authorities Handel Architects was able to reroute some of these paths internally: on the lower level of the east podium, the path splits vertically and connects to the upper level hotel drop-off and its retail frontages. This has the effect of extending High Street’s retail activity to the second level of the project. High Street has been woven into the project in both plan and section. This solution allows for the perseveration of permeable retail space along High Street and also creates the ability to have additional retail, at grade, along all frontages.


Above, the glazing on the tower is a high-performance curtainwall, with louvers on the east and west facades, designed to elegantly deal with the paradox of building a sustainable glass tower in the tropics. The louvres act as sun shades, while also and providing depth to the façade.


The podium materiality is mostly Tunisian limestone and Jet Mist granite, with areas of glazing introduced to inject variety and drama, breaking down the form to a smaller scale. Punctuating the fritted glass field of the ballroom prefunction window is a broad, glass fin-supported picture window. A dichroic glass-fin feature wall anchors the corner of 5Th and High Street, and is a unique material element that announces the project.

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