Address:     65 Sule Pagoda Road
Year built:   1995-2014
Architect:    Unknown

At the time of writing, this much-maligned construction project is lurching to its conclusion. Many bemoan its architectural banality and overbearing presence in the city centre. Others breathe a sigh of relief that this 20-year, on-and-off construction is coming to an end.

The complex consists of two towers of about 90 metres each. Standing on Sule Pagoda Road’s southern edge, they overlook Mahabandoola Park and afford spectacular views (many of this book’s aerial photos were taken there). The southern tower’s façade is covered with large white tiles, which are reflected in the northern tower’s blue solar glazing. Both towers evoke a rather tired architectural language of the 1990s, unsurprising given the project’s drawn-out genesis.

Centrepoint Towers and Independence Monument seen from the North end of Mahabandoola Gardens

With a helicopter deck on one rooftop, will private companies offer their rich customers private air taxi services in the not-so-distant future? This might not be far-fetched, given Yangon’s increasingly sclerotic traffic conditions.

The deal to build this mixed-use project occurred as early as 1993 and construction began two years later. One of the towers was intended to be a luxury hotel operated by the Sofitel Group. The other was earmarked for office and retail space. The Thailand-based investor mothballed the project in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in 1998. It stood idle in a semi-finished state for several years until construction resumed in 2005. By 2009, the investors had to inject another 12.5 million US dollars into the project, taking the overall investment beyond 100 million. This makes it one of Yangon’s priciest real estate projects to date. (To put this into perspective, Yoma’s “Landmark” project surrounding the former Myanmar Railways Company will cost an estimated of 500 million US dollars, embodying growing investor confidence in Myanmar.)

The unlike buildings tower over Mahabandoola Park

After a considerable period searching for the right partner, the Hilton Group was chosen as the hotel operator in 2013. With 300 rooms, it will add considerable capacity to the city’s five-star segment. While the likes of the Canadian Embassy and the Associated Press have already moved into the office tower, the hotel is taking longer than expected. The opening date has been postponed more than once already. The Centrepoint saga isn’t over just yet …