The art of the building and building love of the arts

Published July 30, 2021, 2:37 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

One protracted afternoon spent at SM Megamall turned out to be one of the more enjoyable and illuminating afternoons of the month. I think “long” only in the sense that it was two events in a row — one celebrating a new towering edifice, the Mega Tower; and the second, the unveiling of the Jefrë installation, Time Sculpture, at the corner of EDSA and Julia Vargas. But enjoyable it was, as it became an opportunity to be with friends, even if while socially distanced.

First was the presentation of the Mega Tower to prospective tenants. I’m sure details of the building will be written about elsewhere, but for the purpose of this feature, know that it’s the sexy, undulating, S-silhouette tower we see to the right of the Fashion Hall of Megamall if we’re standing at EDSA. A Gold LEED-certified office building, there’s a wonderful lobby, with a humongous screen above the reception area that lives and breathes Filipino flora and fauna.

Steven Tan, president of SM Supermalls, welcomes the tenants of Mega Tower.

With high clearance for the ceilings, there’s a light, airy feel when you’re inside the building, as if the outdoor has entered the interiors of the structure. It’s been designed beautifully, and I understand the office floors offer the latest in terms of shared office spaces, floor configurations, and layouts — promising dynamic and flexible arrangements.

Panoramic views of the metropolis are a guarantee on any of the upper floors and the latest in amenities. A short covered walk to Megamall form part of the advantages to setting up one’s corporate offices in this building.

Steven Tan, Hans Sy Jr., Mandaluyong City Councilor Charisse Abalos-Vargas, and Russell Sy

With over 1,243 parking spaces, the building is also looking to the future and living up to its LEED sustainability equity, as more than 50 parking spaces are equipped as charging stations for hybrid cars. I think this would be one of the first public buildings outfitted in this manner, and definitely, the most you’d find in one building at this time.

A short but sweet event marked this first public gathering dedicated to the Mega Tower, the new prime corporate address on EDSA.

Time Sculpture on EDSA
Jefrë Manuel is a renowned Filipino-American sculptor and installation artist. A favorite of Hans Sy, his works can be found dotting our Manila urban landscape. The Time Sculpture statue at the Megamall is one fine looking, impressive conversation piece.

The Time Sculpture statue outside Megamall

During the interview conducted by host Issa Litton with Jefrë, he mentioned the EDSA traffic, and how he could imagine there’d be times when motorists would be idling, stuck for minutes by his statue. For him, that would be the opportune moment to reflect on time, and what we’re achieving in our lives. This wonderfully echoed one of the pearls of wisdom of Henry Sy that was quoted during the event, one that had to do with our imagination and time being the only limits we should accept for making something of our lives.

Host Issa Litton doing her remote interview with Jefrë Manuel.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Editor AA Patawaran wrote a succinct piece about Jefrë and his sculptures just last Wednesday, July 28. It delved into the man, his drive, and his success; and how he blossomed as an artist after suffering a coronary and undergoing a triple bypass. Now one of the most sought-after installation artists, Jefrë said during the interview that he plans to visit the Philippines when the pandemic is over, and how proud he was to see his works proliferate in his native land.

Steven Tan, Mandaluyong City Councilor Charisse Abalos-Vargas, and Hans Sy, Jr. during the unveiling of the Time Sculpture.

Hans “Chico” Sy Jr. was animated after the unveiling, talking about the logistics involved in bringing the pieces of the sculpture here, and assembling them. From what I understand, Jefrë has also been commissioned to create a set of pieces for the SM Aura roof deck, inspired by the Chinese zodiac. That’s something to look forward to.

I love how SM is leading the way to democratize art, transforming art into something people from all walks of life can encounter and appreciate, while going about with their everyday lives, or while visiting their favorite mall.

If the late Tatang Henry Sy was the pioneer in democratizing the mall experience for the Filipino, it’s nice to see the next generation enhancing that experience through such pathways as the arts.

 
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