Exchange 106, Kuala Lumpur’s newest iconic building, is the centrepiece of the Financial Quarter and the focal point of the 70 -acre Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) master plan. Standing tall at 453.46m with 106 floors, it is at par with the likes of CITIC Tower, Beijing, Shanghai Tower, and Salesforce Tower, San Francisco. As the recipient of an Award of Excellence for ‘Best Tall Building 400 meters and above’ by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Exchange 106 is one of the most technically tall buildings in the world.
Located at the edge of a 10-acre park in the centre of TRX, the iconic tower is Indonesia-based Mulia Group’s first foray into Malaysia. “When we came to Malaysia, we decided that we were not going to build just another building. There are many beautiful buildings in Malaysia, in particular, the Petronas Twin Towers. Whatever, we did, we were never going to compete with that. So we took it to a different direction,” says Ali Moghaddasi, Chief Development Officer, Mulia Group Architects.
By this, he meant looking at all the requirements from the authorities and meeting special qualifications like MSC status, GBI and LEED. “We satisfied those and went a bit further. Whether it was to provide a higher grade marble flooring, high performance insulated glass, turnstile access control or a camera-based car park guidance system, we look for that extra, and we went there. We decided we needed to be extraordinary and set benchmarks that will have occupiers demand the same level of quality from other buildings.” He admits that while Mulia Group is building for the future, technological advances over the next decade or two will render the hardware ‘normal’. “Hence, we also invest heavily in the software. This includes the Building Management systems, security systems, carpark systems or lift controls, and importantly, in the people that add the heart and soul to the building.”
“Exchange 106 will never be just another beautiful building. It will be about the Front Desk greeting and assisting visitors, the Auxiliary Police helping a visitor find their way around the car park, the housekeeper smilingly ensuring that the washroom is never less than sparkling, and the technicians working through the night to ensure zero downtime. That will be the singular difference that Mulia Group brings to the commercial office market in KL,” concurs Patrick Honan, General Manager, Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd.
Design & Form
Exchange 106 is envisioned to be simple, rational, and timeless. Moghaddasi explains that the plan of the tower is comprised of a square, representing equality, and a circle, representing strength, the very essence of Islamic architecture. The 3-dimensional shape of the tower, gradually tapering to the top, is an extrusion of the designed rational plan, a simple and elegant form complimenting the park setting.
It is also an ideal shape for its function as a financial and commercial centre. The column-free and long spans are designed for flexible layouts and open-plan interior configurations. The planned rotation of the tower will provide ample distance with adjacent towers and 360-degree views for more than 70% of the floors. The tower was designed on an axis that is diagonal to the configuration of the CBD orthogonal grid. “This will emphasise and set the building apart from the rest of the master plan for a unique and special place in the Kuala Lumpur skyline,” explains Moghaddasi.
The tower’s distinctive-looking crown makes it highly recognisable within KL’s city skyline. The crown is made of double-layered laminated low-iron clear and colourless glass panels with satin-finished stainless steel framing in an elegant and cultured diamond pattern. Enhancing the glass is a sophisticated interlayer fabric with metallic coating on the outer face customised for and unique to Exchange 106. Together with the triangulated and folded configuration, the crown reflects and becomes a part of the sky. Inside the crown is the Lantern, which provides a constant glow at night, the colours of which change to reflect the Malaysian currency.
First-time visitors will marvel at the triple volume lobbies, book-matched marble cladding wall with polished marble imported from Italy and Turkey, as well as the fantastic 360-degree views.
“However, once they get past that initial awe, they will see that it all makes sense,” he says. From the centre core service corridor where occupants access all common area services without going through narrow passages, the acoustically treated ceiling boards to the wudhu facilities at every shared washroom, all of these features embody the “going further” philosophy that Mulia implements.
“It is not just the grandeur of the building; it is an intuitive feel that one doesn’t just see. The spaces may inspire a sense of wonder, but this soon settles into a comfortable feeling of ‘right’ and ‘belonging’,” Moghaddasi elaborates. Exchange 106 boasts of a variety of amenities that include two retail and F&B floors, a 5-star hotel drop-off and triple volume main lobby, banking hall, sky lobby at level 57, and 2,200 parking bays over six basement parking levels and two VIP levels. The building will also be linked to the TRX MRT Underground Station and the upcoming Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line.
The design work commenced on Q2 2015, and the mat foundation was poured on 1 May 2016. “In total, it took 835 days and 20 million man hours to complete the superstructure construction portion of the project. The full Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) was issued on 23 December 2019,” says Roland Suckling, Project Director, Mulia Property Development Sdn Bhd, who managed the entire construction process from procurement to site coordination. According to Suckling, the critical factors to the project’s success were good time management and efficiency. “This was achieved by deploying heavier loading tower cranes, the 60- hour mat foundation pour, managing flying landing platforms, fixed loading hours and such,” he explains.
“Our 40-year history ensured that the challenges were few and far between. The Mulia Group operates very uniquely as everything from the inception to operation is done inhouse,” adds Suckling.
As Honan succinctly says, Exchange 106 is well on its way to carve a lane for itself rather than set a benchmark that can be reset by the next iconic building.