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Ministry of Design Installs Sky-High Sculpture for YTL Corporation Berhad in Kuala Lumpur

Hanging in the lobby of the YTL Corporation Berhad headquarters is Leaves, an installation of thousands of silver- and bronze-tinted aluminum shapes by Studio Sawada Design. Photography by David Yeow.

Headquartered in Singapore, with satellite offices in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ministry of Design has established itself as a top talent in the region. Its Vanke Triple V building, a triangle that projects skyward at a vertiginous angle, earned founder Colin Seah a reputation for daring architecture. With its LED dazzle camouflage, his Race Robotics Laboratory confirmed a gift for conceptual interiors. The architect’s latest endeavor encompasses 32,700 square feet of lobby and amenity spaces inside a Kuala Lumpur skyscraper by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates that serves as the headquarters of YTL Corporation Berhad, a construction conglomerate.

Vertical grooves are carved into the Bugatsa White marble cladding structural columns in the eight-story lobby. Photography by David Yeow.

The project neatly toggles between grandeur and intimacy. “It was tricky finding the balance that would appeal to the broad spectrum of the 1,000 employees, from the older guard to the millennials,” Seah begins. The soaring entry lobby rises no less than 82 feet. “The challenge was how to enhance the majestic quality yet not dwarf human scale,” he explains. He and his team’s solution was to clad the space’s colossal columns in white marble, etch the stone with vertical grooves, and then anchor and interrupt them with base insets and horizontal ridges of bronzed aluminum, which break up the dizzying height. In between the columns, the same metal is formed into delicate arched canopies, under which seating niches are nestled. Further tempering the vastness is a commissioned sculpture of silver and bronze pieces that descends like a glimmering cumulus from above. 

Canopies of bead-blasted and bronzed aluminum and leather-upholstered benches form seating niches. Photography by David Yeow.

For the meeting and function areas, on floors eight through 10, MOD went warmer and smaller scaled. Also on the eighth floor is a café that’s similarly welcoming, serving baked goods and espresso. In it, MOD paired oak-slat paneling with a rough-hewn stone counter and seating clusters offering partial privacy. (Pre-pandemic, the café was conceived as the starting point through which all visitors pass through before proceeding to the range of meeting hubs.) Connecting levels eight and nine is a spiral statement stair encircled by golden rods—akin to an opulent birdcage. Its supple leather handrail
is a sybaritic yet grounding touch.

Elevator thresholds are surfaced in the same metal. Photography by David Yeow.
A ribcage of powder-coated aluminum rods wraps the spiral staircase that connects two of the building’s three amenity levels. Photography by David Yeow.
Stair treads are surfaced in wood-look vinyl. Photography by David Yeow.
Glass sconces by Joan Gaspar join oak-slat paneling in the café. Photography by David Yeow.
The coffee counter is faced in rough split-face granite and topped with a polished-granite slab, the same stone as the floor. Photography by David Yeow.
A hot-desking area features custom stools and an oak-veneered ceiling matched to the vinyl underfoot. Photography by David Yeow.
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed the 42-story faceted glass tower with diagonal mega-braces. Photography by David Yeow.

Project Sources: Through Space Furniture: Benches (Lobby). Inovar: Tread Surfacing (Stair). Marset through Neiviv Home: Sconces (Café). Saum & Viebahn: Ban­quette Fabric (Hot Desking). Throughout: Veritas Design Group: Architect of Record. Brandston Part­nership: Lighting Consultant. R&C Creative Studios: Custom Furniture Workshop. PVD Titanium Coating: Metalwork. Quantum One: Woodwork. Axis Stone: Stone Supplier.

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