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 Firm Profile
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The early years
The origins of the P&T Group date back to 1868 with the arrival in Hong Kong of William Salway from England while en route to Australia. Development since 1842 had been frenetic and relatively unplanned, consisting of closely spaced utilitarian tenement buildings. The great fire of 1867, and an increased desire for stability prompted the local merchants to seek grander buildings to reflect their status. Recognizing the need, Salway opened his office in Hong Kong on 1st October 1868.

Three years later, Salway persuaded Wilberforce Wilson, the Surveyor General, to join him in partnership. The new partners designed both the German Club and St Peter's Church in 1872, followed by the Chartered Bank in 1878.

In the same year, another architect from the Surveyor General's office, Godfrey Bird, joined the firm, leaving Salway free to resume his journey to Australia after an interlude of ten years. In 1880, the partnership completed Beaconsfield Arcade, the territory's first multi-storey shopping centre.
Chartered Bank
Chartered Bank 1878
  Beaconsfield Arcade
Beaconsfield Arcade 1880
The first of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank building, designed by Clement Palmer, introduced him to the partnership in 1883. Palmer was only 23 years old when he joined the firm in 1884.

His name would be associated with the company for the next 100 years. Arthur Turner, a structural engineer, about whom little is known, joined the firm in 1884 and both Palmer and Turner were made partners in due course. From 1890 onwards, the practice carried the name "Palmer & Turner". Described with affection by its members as a Victorian Wedding Cake, the Hong Kong Club was also completed in 1887. Towards the close of the century, the firm also designed the annex to Government House. By the late 1880s, the Chartered Bank had outgrown its premises and a new building was completed in 1894.
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank 1883
  Hong Kong Club
Hong Kong Club 1887
  Chartered Bank
Chartered Bank 1894
The First Half of the 20th Century
The retirement of Clement Palmer in 1907 marked the end of the neoclassical era for the firm. Partly as a result of the First World War, little was built in Hong Kong for the next ten years. When the war ended, the main focus of economic recovery shifted to Shanghai, bypassing Hong Kong. The firm followed the developers and opened an office there in the mid-1920s. The concept of saturation piling was introduced by the company, allowing buildings to rise above three storeys. The recovering economy and the removal of the 3-storey height limitation quickly resulted in a building boom for the firm in Shanghai. The splendid Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank building was completed in 1923, followed by the Peace Hotel in 1932 and the Bank of China building next to it.
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, Shanghai
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank, Shanghai 1923
  Peace Hotel, Bank of China
Peace Hotel 1932, Bank of China 1935
With the establishment of the Shanghai office, the main centre of activity for the company moved to that city and the partnership was responsible for many of the buildings on the Bund.

In Hong Kong, the company completed the new Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Headquarters Building in 1935.

This was the first fully air-conditioned building in Hong Kong and was then the tallest structure in Southeast Asia. The firm also expanded into India and Malaya and these offices supported the partnership in the late 1930s. The Palace at Johor Bahru was completed in 1939 for the Sultan of Johor.

Confidence in Shanghai eroded following the outbreak of war between China and Japan in 1937 and in 1939 the partners were forced to close the Shanghai office. It would not reopen for 55 years. In 1941, the Sino-Japan war soon escalated into the Second World War when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and commenced its Malayan campaign. During the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia, all the company's offices in the region were closed.
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank
Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank 1935
  Johor Bahru
Johor Bahru 1939
The Second Half of the 20th Century
After the Second World War ended in 1945, the partners returned to the Hong Kong office. Architecture in Asia still reflected the style of the 1930s. Buildings were massive, heavy and carried little ornamentation. Most of the work carried out by Palmer & Turner was little different. The only difference between Jardine House, which was completed in 1948, and buildings of the 1930s was that of height. The treatment of the new Chartered Bank building and the Bank of China building in the early 1950s continued the firm's Shanghai style.

However, the Goodwood Hotel in Singapore, which was also completed during this period, was an exceptional jewel that reflected its local Southeast Asian heritage.
Bank of China
Bank of China 1950
  Goodwood Hotel
Goodwood Hotel 1953
Chartered Bank
Chartered Bank 1957
The practice was also responsible for one of the most magnificent houses of this period remaining in Hong Kong, Air House on Repulse Bay Road.

In the 1960s, the arrival of a new generation of partners, Ian Campbell, Jim Kinoshita and Malcolm Purvis, brought modern architecture into the company. The Hilton Hotel, Choi Hung Housing Estate and AIA Building took the company solidly into the 20th century, the latter two claimed the Hong Kong Institute of Architects' top award.
Air House
Air House 1957
  Choi Hung Housing Estate
Choi Hung Housing Estate 1962
Heinz Rust, who also joined the partnership during this period, demonstrated his engineering flair and resulted in imaginative structures such as the Kennedy Road Substation. The overall integration and clarity of structural design has remained with the firm ever since.

1970 was also marked by the arrival of the next generation of partners. Nick Burns who quickly established his skills in the design of educational buildings and low-cost housing, while setting new technical standards for the practice. Remo Riva arriving in 1972 brought a disciplined design approach, with the use of geometry coupled with a dynamic sense of space to office buildings and hotels. Richard Wellby did much to establish the Singapore office and the reputation of the company in Southeast Asia. With Ian Campbell's retirement at the end of the decade, all three were admitted to the partnership.

The 1970s was a period of rapid growth for Hong Kong and much of the region. For Palmer & Turner, it was also a time of expansion. The company grew from 60 people at the beginning of the decade to a total of 200 at the end. The architecture of the firm remained firmly modern, with the bulk of its work made up of offices, housing and hotels. The iconic Jardine House (formerly known as Connaught Centre) was Hong Kong's first skyscraper and heralded the revitalization of the Central district.
Hilton Hotel
Hilton Hotel 1962
  AIA Building
AIA Building 1967
  Kennedy Road Substation
Kennedy Road Substation 1970
With economic prosperity came increasing expectations for the industrious population of Hong Kong. To meet these, the firm designed the highest density campus in the world for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University at Hung Hom.
Jardine House
Jardine House 1973
  Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong Polytechnic University 1976
The firm then contributed to a revolution in the standard of Government subsidized housing in the design of Cho Yiu Chuen Estate and Sui Wo Court which was awarded the HKIA Silver Medal.

Singapore and other Asian cities were not far behind Hong Kong's development. In 1973, the Singapore office was opened and by 1980, the firm was responsible for many new buildings in the city centre, changing the waterfront and skyline of Lion City.

In the early 1980s, Malcolm Purvis retired to pursue his career as an artist. As a parting gesture, he wrote and illustrated a light-hearted account of the first 100 years of the practice in his book "Tall Storeys", which was published in 1985. Richard Wellby followed shortly after, transferring leadership of the Singapore office to Alan Low who was appointed as a director in 1983.
Sui Wo Court
Sui Wo Court 1981
The 1980s was again a period of tremendous growth. Staff at Palmer & Turner doubled in number to 400 people by the end of the decade, with new offices opening in Bangkok, Taipei, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, enabling the firm to be involved in the rapid development of these cities. There was a gradual stylistic change during this period, characterized by a loosening of the tight grip of modernism. More playful and articulated forms emerged in the firm's architecture which captured the spirit of change in the growing economies and reflected the cultural diversity of the region.

In 1982, to facilitate its growth, the partnership changed to a corporate structure with linked regional offices operating under the name of the "P&T Group". To ensure unity of approach and common direction, all companies in the group are wholly owned by a holding company, which is in turn owned by the shareholder directors in each of the countries and disciplines.

In 1984, the Group moved into the forefront of international architecture with the completion of the award-winning Exchange Square complex in Central, Hong Kong.

Ruttonjee Centre and Wyndham Place were built in the mid 1980s together with the distinctive Landmark twin office towers.
Ruttonjee Centre
Ruttonjee Centre 1980
  Landmark
Landmark 1980
  Exchange Square I, II & III
Exchange Square I, II & III 1984
In Jakarta, the practice completed the Wisma Metropolitan II in 1984, the Wisma Indocement in 1985 and Bank Negara Building in 1988 which was Indonesia's tallest building on completion.

In Singapore, Singapore Land Tower (formarly known as Shell Tower) and the Standard Chartered Bank building overlooking the Singapore River were realized in 1984.

In the late 1980s, Heinz Rust and Jim Kinoshita handed their company shares to the next generation of directors, Alan Low, Doug Collins, Peter Tse and Brian Courtenay, with Peter Tse taking over leadership of the structural engineering section. Continued expansion brought more leaders into the firm. Sern Vithespongse, Ken Lui and Bing Kwan each added their own flair and style to the company's work. They were joined by Choy Meng Yew, Dennis Tsang and Dave Yip.
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore Land Tower
1984
  Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered
Bank 1984
  Wisma Metropolitan I & II
Wisma Metropolitan I & II 1984
  Bank Negara Building
Bank Negara
Building 1988
The company continued to be active in Hong Kong. Continuing its association with the financial sector, the Hong Kong office saw the completion of the new Standard Chartered Bank building in 1990. In 1993, it produced the iconic Entertainment Building in a highly articulated, neoclassical style. The company completed three other landmarks in Hong Kong between 1996-97, Lippo Tower, with its cruciform skyscraper plan, Citic Tower, with its distinctive triangular plan and rounded corners, and Central Tower, with its extended hexagonal floorplate. This theme led to two other buildings in 1997, City Tower and No.8 Wyndham Street, both of which have similar elliptical floor plans. In 1999, the company saw the completion of the Olympic Station Development in West Kowloon along the new Lantau Airport Railway.
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered Bank 1990
  Entertainment Building
Entertainment Building 1993
Lippo Tower
Lippo Tower 1996
Citic Tower
Citic Tower 1997
Central Tower
Central Tower 1997
  Chuang's City Tower
Chuang's City Tower 1997
No.8 Wyndham Street
No.8 Wyndham Street 1997
Olympic Station Development
Olympic Station Development
1999
In the 1990s, much of the focus shifted again to China, particularly Shanghai, where the office expanded to 200 people and helped to produce 20 major commercial buildings for Hong Kong and Singapore clients. Completed in 1999, Oriental Plaza in Beijing is a landmark development for contemporary China.
Bank of China
Bank of China 1997
  Tai Fung Bank
Tai Fung Bank 1997
  Oriental Plaza
Oriental Plaza 1999
The practice also saw the completion of the Bank of China building, and the Tai Fung Bank, Macau in 1997, the Harbour Ring Plaza, Shanghai in 1998 and Citic Square, Shanghai in 1998.
All Seasons Place
All Seasons Place 2000
In Taiwan, the practice completed the Taipei Metro in 1994, a large mixed use complex that includes the headquarters of the Far Eastern Group, the 5-star Shangri-La Hotel, and the Galleria shopping mall.

The Singapore office continued to add to the company's commercial portfolio with AIA Tower, Phoenix Tower, and Reuters Computer Centre Building, all completed in 1993.

Apart from commercial offices, the practice also became known for its work in designing hotels. In 1974, the firm completed the Hyatt Hotel in Bali and the new wing to the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok that still ranks as one of the world's finest. That year, the Royal Orchid Hotel was also built, overlooking the Chao Phraya River. The Jakarta Mandarin set a new standard for hotels when it opened in 1976.
Bali Hyatt Hotel
Bali Hyatt Hotel 1974
  Oriental Hotel
Oriental Hotel 1976
  Jakarta Mandarin
Jakarta Mandarin
1976
  AIA Tower
AIA Tower 1993
  Taipei Metro
Taipei Metro 1994
In the late 1970s, the emphasis in hotel development shifted to China with the completion of the Jinling Hotel in Nanjing in 1982, followed by the Xiang Jiang Hotel in Guilin in 1989, and the Green Lake Hotel in Kunming. Complementing the adjoining historic monuments, the Suzhou Sheraton Hotel was completed in 1998. In Hong Kong, the Luk Kwok Hotel in Wanchai was built in 1989 while in Beijing, The Landmark Hotel was completed in 1990 as part of a large mixed-use complex. The Westin Resort on Coloane Island, Macau followed soon after.

High-rise residential developments continued to be an area of strength for the company, starting with the development of Hong Kong's first duplex residential tower in the late 70s, the May Tower. The 1980s and 90s saw the completion of several luxury apartment developments in Hong Kong, including Queen's Garden and Pacific View, thus building on earlier achievements.
May Tower
May Tower 1974
  Jinling Hotel
Jinling Hotel 1982
  Luk Kwok Hotel
Luk Kwok Hotel 1989
  Suzhou Sheraton Hotel
Suzhou Sheraton Hotel 1998
Queen's Garden
Queen's Garden 1991
  Pacific View
Pacific View 1991
  Westin Resort
Westin Resort 1993
The P&T Group continued to be involved in high density low-cost public housing in Hong Kong, such as Hing Man Estate in Chai Wan, Clague Gardens Estate at Tsuen Wan and various other low cost estates for the Government. In Singapore, the practice won the first public housing award for design-and-build for Tampines Neighbourhood 4 which was completed in 1994.
Clague Gardens Estate
Clague Gardens Estate 1989
  Tampines Neighbourhood 4
Tampines Neighbourhood 4 1994
Educational buildings occupied a significant proportion of the P&T Group portfolio. Having been involved in designing the first phase of the campus in 1973, the company went on to oversee the completion of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon which, following the P&T masterplan, continues to be built in phases over a period of over 30 years since 1976 .

Following on from the earlier work of the firm, in the 1990s the Hong Kong office added three more new campuses to their portfolio. The mechanistic character of the new Hong Kong Technical College in Tsing Yi in 1993 reflected the subjects taught, while a more classical Chinese theme was used for the campus for Lingnan College at Tuen Mun completed in 1997. The campus for the Institute of Education in Tai Po rounded off the century for the firm.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hong Kong Polytechnic University 1973
      Hong Kong Technical College
Hong Kong Technical College 1993 
Lingnan College
Lingnan College 1997
  Hong Kong Institute of Education
Hong Kong Institute of Education 1998
The Singapore office completed the Tampines Junior College in 1986, followed by the SIM Management House in 1988. In the 1990's the increasing expectations for international education were met by the Chinese International School in 1991, the Singapore International School in 1996, and the Canadian International School in 1999.
Tampines Junior College
Tampines Junior College 1986
  SIM Management House
SIM Management House 1988
Chinese International School
Chinese International School 1991
       Canadian International School
Canadian International School 1999
The Turn of The Century
The year 1997 marked the return of sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China. In the next five years, the economies of the Asia-Pacific region were hit by four calamities in rapid succession. In 1997, the Asian financial crisis erupted with adverse effects on Thailand, Indonesia, and to a lesser extent, Malaysia and South Korea. Even Hong Kong and Singapore were not spared.

With the dawn of the new millennium just as the regional economies started to recover, global terrorism struck at the financial district of New York. Repercussions soon followed with the wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq. In Southeast Asia, the 9/11 attack was echoed by terrorist bombs in Indonesia at Bali and Jakarta.

The Asia Pacific region was then hit by a viral infection which brought about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), adversely impacting the economies of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Disaster struck again in 2004 when tsunamis devastated entire coastal communities in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Not surprisingly, there was a substantial decline of the construction industry all across Southeast Asia. The number of staff in the P&T Group dropped from nearly 800 in 1996 to around 450 by 2004. This was a painful period of consolidation, and the firm relied for its survival on work that resulted from the rapid economic expansion in China.

Yet, in spite of these manmade and natural calamities, our offices in Southeast Asia and China showed remarkable resilience, and having benefited by consolidation, started expansion into the new markets of India, Vietnam and the Middle East. Luckily, this expansion has paid off handsomely, and we now have a substantial presence of just under 100 in three offices in the Middle East, and two offices in Vietnam. The phenomenal economic growth of China has given the practice a large portfolio of on-going projects, not just in the coastal cities, but lately also in the second tier inland cities. India is catching up quickly as the next Asian economic powerhouse and the company is seeing a growing list of commissions in Mumbai and other cities. As a result of this expansion at the end of 2009, the Group was 1,600 strong with 18 offices.

The company has been privileged to be involved in the development of the key Asian cities. In Shanghai, the P&T Group was instrumental in defining the skyline of the famous Bund waterfront of the 1930s. In Hong Kong, the firm after its colonial beginnings, has completed an impressive commercial portfolio of more than 20 notable buildings. In Singapore and Bangkok, the practice was responsible for a number of major buildings, and more recently, our reputation has spread to the Middle East, India and Vietnam where the P&T Group is now involved in highly significant commissions in the rapidly growing cities of the areas.
City of Arabia
City of Arabia 2008
Looking back over nearly one and a half centuries from small beginnings in 1868, we have been lucky enough to be involved in the development of the economies and societies of the near East and Far East, and we have worked hard to be part of the changing economy. We are now larger as a Group than ever before. With the increase in skills, our work is now more evenly spread, and more robust, with diverse presence spread across different parts of the world. We hope that we will strive to continue the contribution of the last 140 years for a least the next 1,000 years.
The Waterfront, Singapore
The Waterfront, Singapore 1999
The Bund, Shanghai
The Bund, Shanghai 1992
Central, Hong Kong
Central, Hong Kong 2007