Carmen Jimenez-Ong never expected to collaborate on the design of a 32-story tower given her aversion to working with more traditional materials such as cement, steel, and glass, which she feels lack a sense of warmth. An incredibly soulful person, Jimenez-Ong, the CEO and founder of the Menarco Tower and real estate developer at Menarco Development Corporation, soon turned the project into a creative challenge—finding ways to inject personality into the structure’s design and fill it with life. The resulting building, the Menarco Tower in Manila, Philippines, is now the first building in Southeast Asia to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management.
The recognition bestowed on the tower by the International WELL Building Institute is part of their recently launched guide, which encourages large and small businesses alike to take the necessary steps to prioritize health and safety. “Healthy buildings are a human right,” Jimenez-Ong notes, and with the help of the WELL Health-Safety Rating her team on the Menarco project worked to identify and find solutions for safety concerns, ultimately creating a culture grounded in health, flexibility, and adaptability.
Heading up the commercial tower project as CEO, Jimenez-Ong incorporated a variety of features to better serve the 2,000 employees who work there. Forgoing the traditional model that puts fire exit stairways in the middle of a building, Jimenez-Ong located the stairs in an area that receives an abundance of natural light making it a route people choose to use, ultimately familiarizing themselves with safety protocol. The building also features the Menarco Vertical Museum, a gallery in the tower with public access that boasts a collection of important pieces from contemporary Filipino artists.
“I don’t want to ever shortchange anybody,” Jimenez-Ong says, noting that workers trust her and her team to create a safe workplace that allows them to perform their best. An on-site daycare and music school for children has been established to alleviate added stress of childcare from working parents. The uplifting energy children bring to Menarco Tower is captured in The Yard—a dedicated space for collaboration where coworkers can unwind, enjoy refreshments, and play card games. A multipurpose room, The Yard is also an event and party space where the Menarco community celebrates their accomplishments from professional achievements to the winning team of the company wide basketball league. “It makes me happy to share that during this crucial season, Menarco Tower helps keep people safe and well,” she adds.