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KOMTAR in April 2016
Menara KOMTAR Complex
Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak
10000 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
|Roof||248.7 m (816 ft)|
|Floor count||68 storeys (including three new levels added in 2016)|
|Floor area||71,080 m2 (765,100 sq ft)|
|Lifts/elevators||26 Mitsubishi/Hitachi Elevators|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Architects Team 3
Jurubena Bertiga International Sdn.
|Structural engineer||Ove Arup & Partners|
KOMTAR Tower, or Menara KOMTAR Complex is Penang's tallest building and the sixth tallest building in Malaysia located in the heart of George Town, dominating the island's skyline. KOMTAR is an acronym for Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak. When the skyscraper topped out (reached full height during construction phase), it was the second tallest building in Asia after Sunshine 60 in Tokyo. KOMTAR was still Malaysia's tallest building for 3 years before it was surpassed by Menara Maybank in Kuala Lumpur in 1988. It remains as Penang's tallest building since 1985 at a height of 232 metres (761 ft). In 2016 as part of the revitalisation plan, three new levels totalling 17 metres were added to the tower raising the height to 249 metres (817 ft).
KOMTAR is a multipurpose complex consisting of retail outlets, transportation hub and administrative offices for the Penang State Government. An acronym for Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak, KOMTAR was named after Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein Al-Haj, the second prime minister of Malaysia, who officiated in the piling of Phase 1 on 1 January 1974. It bears the same name as Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak in Johor Bahru, built about the same time but on a smaller scale. The Johor Bahru KOMTAR only has 25 storeys.
The 65-storey tower (excluding the three new levels added in 2016) is a 232 m (761 ft) 12-sided geometric block atop a 4-storey podium. The complex comprises office and retail commercial space as well as public and recreational facilities. It was designed by Architects Team 3 (AT3) of Singapore. and designed and constructed with local expertise, also a geodesic dome of Buckminster Fuller's design. The architect involved in the design of the building was Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, the younger brother of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.
KOMTAR is a reminder of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu’s vision for Penang. It is cutting-edge in its concepts and design, as never before had such a massive urban regeneration project of this type been undertaken in Malaysia, which placed social and administrative benefits at the heart of its planning. Penang was in a state of decline when Dr Lim became the Chief Minister of Penang, whose home state was stripped of its entreport status years earlier. The Robert Nathan report that was commissioned before Dr Lim took office was completed during his tenure. Whilst the report did not include any physical plans, it alluded to the need for urban renewal.
As Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, the principal architect and director of the KOMTAR development consortium, recounted in 2016, Dr Lim Chong Eu saw that it was his responsibility to ensure that the appointed consultants were competent and of the national and international standing necessary to undertake it. The original documents show that the project was not just about urban development but heritage conservation and the revitalisation of George Town, of the real residual people of the city. The Central Area Planning Unit (CAPU) was formed to integrate the input of the consultants and staff from the city and the state. Although Team 3 carried the major thrust, other experts including social researchers from University of Science, Malaysia (USM) and a traffic consultant were brought into the group. It was a fairly total planning package, done at a time prior to Malaysia adopting the Town and Country Act that was promulgated only in 1976. These pioneered recommendations for urban revitalisation and conservation led to proposals for the Penang Urban Centre, later called KOMTAR.
KOMTAR occupies an 11-hectare site and is the single most ambitious urban renewal project undertaken by Penang Development Corporation, the development arm of the Penang state government. The master plan is divided into five phases for implementation.
- 1 History
- 2 Phase 1
- 3 Phase 2A
- 4 Phase 2B
- 5 Phase 3: Prangin Mall
- 6 Phase 4: 1st Avenue Mall
- 7 Phase 5
- 8 References
Important dates in the planning and construction of KOMTAR include the following:
|1 January 1974||The first piling of the building's phase one was done by the late Tun Abdul Razak, the second PM of Malaysia.|
|2 December 1976||Part of the complex's first phase podium block was completed in 1976.|
|23–24 January 1983||A fire broke out at the 43rd floor of the building and destroyed the floors above it. Firemen were unable to put out the flames as it was too high up. The flames eventually burnt out after approximately eight hours. The building was still under construction at that time and it was the worst highrise fire in the country after the Campbell Shopping Complex and the Bank Bumiputra fires, both of which took place in Kuala Lumpur.|
|1986||Phase 1, Phase 2A and Shangri-La Hotel (now Jen Hotel) opens.|
|1988||Construction of 65-storey Komtar Tower is completed.|
|1997||Construction of Phase 4, Prangin Mall begins.|
|2000||Prangin Mall opens.|
|2005||The long-time anchor tenant at the mall, Super Komtar, a local department store chain folded in. Another department store, Aktif Lifestyle (formerly Yaohan) occupying the adjoining block, has also ceased operations. Both sites have since been left vacant and the KOMTAR shopping precinct continues its demise.|
|1 May 2008||The new Penang State Government reaffirmed its commitment to revitalise KOMTAR by calling off the relocation plan of its administrative offices to Bayan Mutiara.|
|17 December 2008||A new anchor tenant named Pacific took over Super Komtar Supermarket & Departmental Store as the main anchor tenant with a floor space of over 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2). Upgrading and renovating works on Phase 2A completes.|
|19 August 2009||Komtar Walk was opened outside Pacific's main entrance. It features 19 F&B outlets and an open space. 1st Avenue, Phase 3 commenced construction.|
|27 May 2010||Popular Bookstore, which opened in Komtar at 1991 and was the first Popular outlet outside Kuala Lumpur, returned to its former location after moving to Prangin Mall in 2004. The store in Prangin Mall has since ceased operations.|
|17 August 2010||Requests for Proposal (RFP) were called by the state government to rejuvenate the open space of the level 5 podium and Geodesic Dome, levels 59 and 60 of the tower, and the installation of an outdoor bubble lift linking level 5 and the level 65 rooftop.|
|17 November 2010||ICT Mall @ KOMTAR opens.|
|25 November 2010||1st Avenue Mall opens.|
|31 July 2012||Penang Heritage Square announced for Phase 5 development.|
|29 October 2013||RM50 million KOMTAR revitalisation and rejuvenation project covering levels 5, 59, 60, 64 and 65 kicks off by Only World Group Holdings Berhad (OWG).|
|1 June 2015||59 Sixty Restaurant on levels 59 and 60 of tower block opens for business.|
|18 September 2015||OWG takes over management of KOMTAR Multi-Storey Car Park and upgrading works will be carried out over six months. Level five of the nine-level car park will be dedicated to women drivers only for security reasons, where shoppers can access the upcoming shopping arcade directly as they exit the car park.|
|20 January 2016||Revitalisation project expanded to include construction of three additional levels (levels 66, 67 and 68) and new spaces (levels 3, 4, 5 and 6).|
|20 April 2016||The original plan for glass bubble lifts now replaced by concealed type following advice by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health.|
KOMTAR Revitalisation Project
Several initiatives are being deliberated under the first phase of the KOMTAR Revitalisation Project:
- Calling of tender for the multi-storey car park after the existing operator hands it over to the state in December 2009.
- Seeking interested parties keen in developing and leasing the commercial area at level four of the podium, levels 59 and 60 of the KOMTAR Tower, the squash centre and the food court both located on level 5.
- Turning the rooftop garden and open area on level 5 into an extreme game park and youth performing centre.
In November 2012, KOMTAR was slated to be revitalised with a RM40mil budget, by upgrading and reconstructing levels 5, 59, 60, 64 and 65. The original revitalisation project covered a total built up area of 130,333 sq ft leased to Only World Group (OWG), including a 30,000 sq ft boulevard to house food and beverage outlets and a banquet hall at level 5, an international class themed restaurant at levels 59 and 60, a sky restaurant at level 64 and a sky lounge at level 65. Besides that, the project would also involve constructing two bubble lifts costing RM6mil. This revitalisation is part of the Penang state government's initiative to regain the glory of KOMTAR. The entire project would take 30 months to complete.
Subsequently in 2015, additional floors (level 66) and new spaces (levels 3, 4, 5 and 6) were added to the project which would at least double the total built-up area. Total cost in the expanded KOMTAR revitalisation project has increased to RM180mil.
In an April 2016 project progress update, it is confirmed that three new levels are being added to the 65-storey tower, increasing its height to 808 feet. On completion, KOMTAR will be 17 metres taller, with six metres each from Level 66 and 67 and another five metres from the rooftop Sky Bar.
One of the main attractions is the 5.5 metres Skywalk, the first of its kind in South East Asia. The U-shaped glass walkway is constructed from the same glass material as that of Grand Canyon Skywalk and is designed to withstand a total weight of 16 adults.
Three high-speed bubble lifts are being constructed, two of which will connect level 5 theme park to 65-67, and another from level 59 to level 68 rooftop. On 20 April 2016, it is confirmed that following the safety advice by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, plan for the bubble lifts have since been amended to that of concealed type .
Collectively, the project is now officially named The Top. Among the attractions are:
- 59 Sixty Restaurant (levels 59 and 60) - now open, offers fine dining and breathtaking 360 degree panoramic city views. Function hall and banquet hall available.
- Lounge and clubhouse (levels 66 and 67) - construction in progress (April 2016).
- Skywalk (level 68) - construction in progress (April 2016).
- Skybar (level 68) - construction in progress (April 2016).
- Theme park (levels 3, 4, 5 and 6) - construction in progress (April 2016).
- Penang State Gallery - everything about Penang and its heritage.
- Playote - live feed enabled customized augmented reality game.
- 5D Sea Explorer - high-resolution surrounding projectors that create a seamless and almost-reality show of an underwater world.
- 7D Planetarium Dome - intensive visual journey across the stars from the latest technology in virtual reality.
- Jurassic Research Centre - hands-on interactive activity centre featuring the planet's prehistoric past, experience the life size dinosaurs in their habitat through the eye of science.
- The Top Picks - exclusive gift shop selling local made, hand made, snacks, arts and crafts and all the best Penang has got to give.
KOMTAR Tower and Concourse
KOMTAR consists of a 65-storey tower block sitting atop a five-storey concourse. The concourse houses a department store, post office, retail outlets, food and beverage outlets and state government offices. The tower block houses private, state and federal government offices.
KOMTAR used to have a duty-free shop on the 57th floor, The Tower Tourist Center and Observation Deck on level 60 that gave visitors an excellent panoramic view of the city, the mainland (Butterworth) and Penang Bridge.
As a component of the revitalisation project, levels 59 and 60 have since re-opened in 2015 with a brand new fine-dining restaurant. As of April 2016, three new levels are being added to the tower, together with the first-of-its-kind rooftop Skywalk in South East Asia. These are expected to be completed in 2016.
Dewan Tunku Geodesic Dome / Tech Dome Penang
The Dewan Tunku Geodesic Dome located on level 5 is a partial-spherical structure based on a pattern of circles called geodesics which intersects to form triangular elements. These triangular elements spread the stress across the entire structure. It is based on a concept studied, developed and popularised by R. Buckminster Fuller.
The main entrance to the Geodesic Dome is from the auditorium level, and is also accessible from level 4 of KOMTAR.
The multi-purpose hall Dome was used for performances, official functions, concerts and other events.
At the initiative of the Penang State Government to create a hub for technology learning and exchange of ideas, the Dome and the squash centre are being transformed into Tech Dome Penang. Scheduled to open mid-2016, it will be a vehicle for improving scientific literacy and technology ability in Malaysia. Once completed, it will feature the following galleries:
- Optics - demonstrates the unique characteristics of different types of light.
- Information technology - celebrates the humble sand and its place in modern technology.
- Life tech - takes a walk through the sciences and technologies that maintain human health.
- Robotics - an apartment coming to life with robotics showing contemporary as well as future applications of robotics including for entertainment, medicine, rescue, military, industry, education and household.
- Exploration zone - a space dedicated to young children with games and activities that challenge them to think, explore and play while indirectly learning scientific concepts.
- Penang transformation - tells the story of Penang's evolution from the paddy fields of the 1960s to the high-technology industries of today.
Hotel Jen is a 4 star hotel near KOMTAR Tower. It was originally the Shangri-La Penang until it was rebranded in the 2000s as Traders Hotel.
ICT Digital Mall @ KOMTAR
ICT Digital Mall @ Komtar, or simply ICT Mall, is a new retail development managed by Venice Gateway Sdn. Bhd. in Komtar, Penang. Opened in November 2010, it occupies the space originally occupied by Yaohan Department Store and later by Aktif Lifestyle Store. The new mall is geared towards offering shoppers an array of electrical and electronic products including computer hardware and software, telecommunication products such as cellular phones, as well as cameras and photography gears.
The ground floor of ICT Digital Mall @ Komtar will be a food court, to be known as ICT Mall Food Court. To ensure smooth traffic flow to ICT Mall, a new overhead pedestrian bridge is constructed to link the third floor of ICT Mall to 1st Avenue Mall.
On 28 May 2016, the Asia Comic Cultural Museum opens on level 2 of the ICT Mall.
KOMTAR Bus Terminal
KOMTAR Bus Terminal is the hub of bus services in George Town. All the bus routes of Penang radiates from this terminal.
|Level 1||Main Entrance, KOMTAR Bus Terminal, ICT Food Court, Hotel Lobby|
|Level 2||VIP Parking Bays, Popular Bookstore, ICT Handphones Department, Hotel Ballroom|
|Level 3||Government Offices, ICT Computers Department|
|Level 5||Auditorium, Geodesic Dome housing the Tech Dome Penang (April 2016: in progress), The Top theme park (April 2016: under construction)|
|Level 6–65||Offices, restaurant on levels 59 and 60|
|Level 66-68||Restaurants, lounge, Skywalk (April 2016: under construction)|
Pacific Hypermarket & Departmental Store
The wholly new Pacific KOMTAR is the 74th outlet chain of The Store Corporation Berhad in Malaysia. Pacific KOMTAR is occupying 4 levels.
KOMTAR Walk, which covers a 155m-long stretch parallel to Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, is a food and beverage hub developed by Pacific Hypermarket & Department Store Sdn Bhd.
KOMTAR Walk houses F&B outlets underneath an open-air lightweight roof. The 19 outlets, five single-storey ones stand in a single structure at the foot of the overhead bridge facing the outdoor carpark. Seven more are connected to the KOMTAR building next to the George Town White Coffee outlet while the remaining seven outlets, which are all double-storey, are located opposite (KOMTAR). These two rows are separated by a 5m walkway, which also allows for outdoor seating.
Parcel of land sold to a local retail chain for development of retail commercial. Construction once began around the same time as Phase 4 Prangin Mall (see below) in 1997. However, the project has since been put on hold following soil subsidence affecting the surrounding areas, as well as the Asian financial crisis. The Prangin Mall development was later identified to be the most probable cause of the subsidence. Phase 2B is now used as an outdoor car park.
Phase 3: Prangin Mall
Prangin Mall is a shopping centre in George Town, Penang. Named after Prangin Road, also known as Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Prangin Mall was opened for business in the year 2001. It caters to a market ranging from lower to middle class. The mall comprises six levels including a basement floor, two levels of basement parking and a further three levels of parking at the upper floors.
Phase 4: 1st Avenue Mall
Located in the heart of Georgetown along Jalan Magazine, 1st Avenue Mall measures 655,000 sqf in gross floor area and spreads over 7 retail levels.
This is the first TGV Cinemas outlet in Penang Island. Opened on 8 January 2011, it has eight auditoriums with a total capacity of 1,310 people. It also contains Malaysia's first Beanieplex, which enables moviegoers to relax on beanbags while enjoying their movies.
This abandoned site is bordered by four streets namely McNair Road, Dr. Lim Chwee Leong Road, Magazine Road and Beach Street. Earmarked for commercial use but revised in 2002 to include a transportation hub.
Penang Heritage Square
In July 2012, Phase 5 was earmarked by the Penang State Government and Penang Development Corporation to be developed into Penang's new heritage enclave, known as Heritage Square. This would be in line with George Town's World Heritage Listing as well as to complement PDC's revitalisation efforts for KOMTAR as the socio-civic centre and business hub of the State. This prime 4.5 acres of land in the heart of George Town will predominantly be public space. The Heritage Square and Centre will dedicate, consecrate and restore the cultural vibrancy of George Town by promoting the living heritage and street life in the inner city, as well as greening the city, thus ensuring a balanced development for the area. The project which is currently under construction, with an objective of revitalising the KOMTAR Phase 5 area, and to improve the heritage value and significance of the site by creating urban spaces and landscapes for healthy urban living. The development of Heritage Square Project will revitalise the adjacent KOMTAR building complex which is directed at regaining the glory of KOMTAR as the nerve centre of Penang.
The components of Penang's Heritage Square consist of the following:
- Restoration and refurbishment of the existing “Sia Boey” (Prangin Market) structure
This will revitalise the “Sia Boey” into a retail and tourist site, comprising among others a visitors’ centre, crafts and souvenir retail areas, flowers and food hubs. To expand the “Sia Boey”, market, it is expected that PDC will build an additional adjacent market to complement the existing one for a similar function. This restoration would mark the core zone boundary of the George Town UNESCO Heritage Site.
- Creation of urban spaces
As George Town needs more public space for recreation, public congregation, celebrations and cultural performances, the urban public space which include some green areas will be promoted as the first of its kind in Penang for healthy living. The heritage celebration square will also provide a spot for a centre of culture, arts and traditions in George Town, in turn promoting cultural vibrancy and the concept of melting pot of cultures in the inner city.
- Creation of a Heritage Celebration Square
To refurbish and reinstate the urban setting of the area whereby existing traditional pre-war shophouses along Maxwell Road will undergo adaptive reuse into cafes, coffee shops, tea houses, crafts and handicraft centres, mini-museums, boutiques and B&B hotels which are parallel with the heritage theme. To also reinstate urban setting and usage of the area whereby Maxwell Road will only be limited to pedestrians, and thus promoted as a walking street.
- George Town Heritage Centre (GHC)
This 5-storey iconic building will serve as a venue for arts, cultural, heritage, community, youth and performing activities. The GHC will be raised above street level to provide street plazas for the public.
- Restoration of Prangin Canal
To restore the Prangin Canal with plans for hawkers street food zone and street furniture amidst well-landscaped areas.
In June 2016, however, "Sia Boey" (Phase 5) was identified as a likely site for a transportation hub for the planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Mass Rail Transit (MRT) interchange under the Penang Transport Master Plan. The planned Penang Arts District is now shifted to an alternative 9.2 acres vacant site off Macallum Street Ghaut and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
- "Komtar". CTBUH Skyscraper Database.
- Komtar at Emporis
- "Komtar". SkyscraperPage.
- Komtar at Structurae
- "Raising KOMTAR", Penang Monthly
- "Raising KOMTAR", Penang Monthly
- "Penang Story Lecture: KOMTAR and the Buckminster Fuller Connection", Penang Heritage Trust
- "Fire guts upper floors of Penang skyscraper", The Straits Times
- "Komtar to be Transformed into Major Icon", The Sun Daily
- "Penang's Iconic KOMTAR Gets RM50m Facelift", The Malay Mail Online
- "One Level of KOMTAR Car Park Reserved for Fairer Sex after Upgrading", The Star
- "OWG Expects to Finish RM180mil KOMTAR Revitalisation Project by Year End", The Star
- "JKKP 基於安全考量 光大觀景電梯改封閉式", 光明日報 Guangming Daily
- "RM40mil upgrade for KOMTAR", The Star
- "OWG Expects to Finish RM180mil KOMTAR Revitalization Project by Year End", The Star
- "光大长高 68楼注入新生命 KOMTAR Grows Taller, New Lease of Life for 68 Storeys", 光华日报 Kwong Wah Yit Poh
- "光大长高 68楼注入新生命 KOMTAR Grows Taller, New Lease of Life for 68 Storeys", 光华日报 Kwong Wah Yit Poh
- "一起见证 光大蜕变 Witnessing Together KOMTAR's Metamorphosis", 光华日报 Kwong Wah Yit Poh
- "JKKP 基於安全考量 光大觀景電梯改封閉式", 光明日報 Guangming Daily
- The Top official website
- Tech Dome Penang official website
- Asia Comic Cultural Museum Facebook page
- Prangin Mall official website
- "Proposed Heritage Square for Penang", Citizen Journalists Malaysia
- "Penang's Heritage Square – Reclaiming Public Space for Penangites", Lim Guan Eng
- "Penang Arts District Relocated to Macallum Street Sia Boey to be Transport Hub", The Malay Mail Online