Asia Insurance Building
|Ascott Raffles Place|
|Former names||Asia Insurance Building|
|Status||Opened in November 2008|
|Location||Downtown Core, Singapore|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Ng Keng Siang|
The former Asia Insurance Building (Chinese: 前亚洲保险大厦; pinyin: qián Yàzhōu Bǎoxiǎn dàshà) is a high-rise building formerly for commercial use, located on Finlayson Green near Raffles Place, in Singapore's Downtown Core. The Asia Insurance Building was also known as the A.I. Building, but was renamed to Ascott Raffles Place after the Ascott Group (a division of CapitaLand) completed its redevelopment of the building into a serviced apartment residence in November 2008.
Prior to the construction of the Asia Insurance Building, the site was occupied by the Union Insurance of Canton. The company moved to its own building on Collyer Quay in 1924. After the relocation, the site was then occupied by the South British Insurance Company before the building was demolished to make way for the current Asia Insurance Building.
Completed in 1954, the foundation stone for the Asia Insurance Building was laid by Commissioner-General Malcolm MacDonald on 19 June 1953. It was officially opened on 10 December 1955. With 20 storeys and at 87 metres tall, the Asia Insurance Building was the tallest building in Southeast Asia upon its completion in 1954. In Singapore, it was the first structure to exceed the Cathay Building's claim for the tallest building in the 1950s. However, with the development of the central business district where the building is sited, the Asia Insurance Building has since been dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers.
The Asia Insurance Building was named after its former namesake occupant, Asia Insurance, which is a Singaporean company incorporated on 11 July 1923.
In July 2006, the Ascott Group, an international serviced residence owner-operator, acquired the Asia Insurance Building for S$109.5 million. The building was restored, and converted to serviced apartments for business travellers. The new Ascott Raffles Place will be a 146-unit serviced apartment residence that opened in November 2008. It is Ascott Group's only real property under its luxury-premium "Ascott" name in Singapore, with rates at S$500 to S$600 a night.
The former Asia Insurance Building was designed by one of Singapore's pioneer architects, Ng Keng Siang. Ng was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and designed the Art Deco building after the prevailing Modern Movement. He also exhibited a strong liking for eclectic architectural styles. Ng had also designed the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Hill Street, and Ngee Ann Building which has made way for Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road.
The building has a L-shaped façade with rows of windows, and a concrete crown on its top. In 1955, to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, a colossal banner was put up on the building's façade, and lights were decked out on the crown.
Other distinctive architectural features include a brass mail chute where mail could be dropped at a high point and collected at a central depository, a mosaic staircase with timber railing, a black granite five foot way around the perimeter of the building, and two Nero Portaro black granite Colonnades at the front. All these features, including the building façade and crown, will be conserved at a cost of S$60 million with the development of Ascott Raffles Place. Hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates is designing the interior of the suites.
The building was featured in the Singaporean TV Series 'Listen to our walls' in 2009 on Channel 5.
- "Singapore Infopedia: Asia Insurance Building". National Library Board. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- Tay Suan Chiang (28 July 2007). "Relive the style of a bygone era". The Straits Times.
- "Ascott to acquire Asia Insurance Building and Hotel Asia for S$217.5 million". Ascott Group. Retrieved 2006-07-04.[dead link]
- "The Ascott Group Boosts Singapore Presence with Two Citadines and a Luxurious 'All Suites' Ascott". Ascott Group. Retrieved 2006-09-28.[dead link]