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.
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.
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.
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.
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.