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Tan Hui Yee
Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014

Asia

Bangkok's Super Tower to dwarf all others in S-E Asia

The Straits Times | Tan Hui Yee | Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014

The Super Tower in Ratchdapisek Road forms the centrepiece of a condominum, office and retail development spread out over 11.7ha of land.

A new "Super Tower" will dwarf the rest of Bangkok's skyline in 2019.

Standing at 615m, it will be double the height of Baiyoke II Tower, Thailand's tallest building. It will also surge past Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, the tallest in South-east Asia, and come to a rest just 200m shy of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.

The tower will house a six-star hotel and gleaming offices in a glass-and-steel frame resembling a more angular and blue-tinged version of London's Gherkin.

The man behind the project, Mr Yotin Boondicharern, is uncharacteristically blase when asked why he was constructing such a tall building.

"I wanted to fully utilise the construction permit. It'd be a waste if we didn't use it," said the 73-year-old chairman of listed developer Grand Canal Land.

While he hired American architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill - the same company behind Burj Khalifa - he gave it little by way of a design brief.

"I just told them how many hotel rooms I wanted to have and so on," he said.

Cheerleaders in ASEAN's second- largest economy will no doubt cite the Super Tower as another example of its good prospects, despite the Finance Ministry's projections of just 1.4 per cent growth this year and 4.1 per cent next year.

Thailand, which is still under martial law, is trying to regain its footing after the military coup in May that ended seven months of political turmoil.

"No matter what happens in politics, Thai businesses will move on as usual," Mr Yotin said.

Sitting upright, his black jacket resting uneasily over a crisp white shirt, Mr Yotin gives off the air of an old-school tycoon who steadily grew his empire by keeping a close watch on the bottom line.

His grandparents left the Chaozhou region in southern China to start a small business in Bangkok's Chinese-dominated Yaowarat district.

At 13, Mr Yotin was sent to Hong Kong where he later studied civil engineering at the institute now known as Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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