Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One for the money


The Straits Times
Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012

Look at buildings vying to stand out across Singapore's business district skyline and "one" stands out. Make that several "ones".

Many of the buildings feature the number "one" in their names.

Consider these ones: condominium One Shenton (completed last year), waterfront dining and entertainment complex One Fullerton (2000), the office buildings One Marina Boulevard (2004), One Raffles Quay (2006), One George Street (2004), One Raffles Place (new name - 2008) and One Raffles Link (2000).

So why is one the one that is numero uno downtown? The number exudes the image of being top of the pack, says CapitaCommercial Trust Management, a spokesman for One George Street.

SundayLife! also did a quick check of buildings across Singapore with "one" in the name and found dozens including commercial building Surbana One (the former HDB Centre) in Jalan Bukit Merah and industrial building Focus One in Ubi View.

There is also 29-storey condominium Newton One in 1 Newton Road, which, says its owner, developer Lippo Realty, was named for its single tower and also because it is the Indonesian company's first residential development here.

Some "number one" buildings used to go by different names.

One Raffles Place was formerly OUB Centre, built in the 1980s. But in 2008, owner OUB Centre Ltd renamed it One Raffles Place amid a $540million plan to add a 38-storey tower office building and redevelop its retail podium.

The owner says it wanted to reflect the prime address in the commercial epicentre and to provide a strong identity.

Tenants have been won over, including GMP Recruitment Services, which moved into the building in 2004. The firm's assistant director of corporate services, Mr Josh Goh, 38, says being associated with a premium address helps to "beef up" the brand and add an "air of reputability".

However, there is one problem: The new name confuses clients and taxi drivers who get mixed up with all the buildings in the area with "one" in their names. Mr Goh says: "To overcome this, we refer to the previous name, OUB Centre, which immediately dispels any doubts."

Financial consultant Cheyne Chen, 24, who works in the CBD, says: "I am familiar with the buildings here but there is a chance that those who just started working here or those who need to go from one building to another might be confused."

But for another One Raffles Place business, posh bar 1-Altitude, the name "one" is a win-win one.

Ms Lily Hamid, 27, marketing manager of 1-Rochester Group, which owns the bar, says: "It definitely matches our branding. We take into consideration the address when we're scouting for locations because we want to remain true to our branding."

Some brand experts told SundayLife! that the name of a building can add to its stature.

Ms Sarah Reiter, chief executive officer for South-east Asia of brand consultancy FutureBrand, who declined to reveal her age, says: "'One' gives off a sense of prestige and of being the best. After all, nobody wants to be number two.

"If you think about location and a premium address, having 'one' in the name is the embodiment of this. It is a speedy and efficient way of promoting the place."

Branding consultancy The Brand Union Singapore has another take. Its regional director, Mr Graham Hitchmough, 41, feels that although a good name can help differentiate a building from its competitors, it is not enough. He says: "With so many buildings being added to the skyline these days, it is even more important to stand out visually.

"Renowned architects are increasingly used to design landmark buildings and the quality of the property's name and identity need to live up to and communicate the architectural vision."

Combining these factors is One Shenton at 1 Shenton Way, on the site of the former Robina House offices. It was designed by renowned architect Carlos Ott, who was behind the Opera De La Bastille in Paris and Hangzhou Grand Theatre. Its two towers have striking gold and silver facades.

According to Mr Eric Tay, in his 40s, associate group division director of Propnex Realty, apartments at One Shenton range from about $1,700 to $2,600 per sq ft.

A spokesman for owner City Developments says: "Our intent was to choose a modern name that complements the bold and iconic architectural design. The name evokes the positioning of the residences as the first on Shenton Way."

Still, for some companies such as global accounting firm Ernst & Young, the building's name is secondary, even if it is "one".

It moved into One Raffles Quay in 2006 but country managing partner Max Loh, 50, says: "The address was not a key consideration. Being in a Grade A building that is progressive and provides a conducive environment where our people can perform optimally to provide quality services, was."



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