BNP Tower & The Panama City Waterfront Initiative

Panama Financial Tower

The news that the Panamanian government is investing in a new financial tower designed by world famous Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in downtown Panama City has created much controversy; which is why I love being an architect, because I can just talk about the building and forget about all of the politics! First, the Financial Tower is just one project in a larger group known as the Panama City Waterfront Initiative, which is described in the proposal as-

…a group of projects designed in concert to build value along the coastline of Panama City, strengthening the position of the city as a worldwide business and tourism destination.

The expansion of the Cinta Costera between the Old City and the Amador District will establish continuous public access to the waterfront, organizing a string of important civic, business and tourism sites along the coastline, culminating with the Museo de la Biodiversidad on the causeway. The development of these public amenities and catalyst projects will add value and vitality to the government controlled lands of the Amador district.

Panama Financial Tower

The tower itself will be one of the largest in Panama, at 69-storeys, and in my opinion, one of the most architecturally appealing in the Panama skyline. The unique design of the tower will allow for a very efficient open floor plate, with post-tensioned floor plates and a cable perimeter wall.

Panama Financial Tower Plans

The facade is designed to be energy efficient and reduce energy consumption (though there are no details yet on how). The open floor plate will allow for natural day-lighting which reduces the need for artificial lighting while providing a better working environment. I can imagine the amazing views as well!!

Panama Financial Tower PlansThe tower will also be connected to parking garage via a pedestrian bridge.  The parking structure will also house a new Government Conference Center which will provide meeting spaces and public presentation venues. In addition to the parking garage, there will be a below grade parking garage located in the adjacent property which will feature a new public park.

Panama Financial Tower

New public amenities will include the new park, as well as an observation level and restaurant at the top of the tower.  The innovative design allows for the top of the tower to be unobstructed by mechanical rooms, creating what will be one of the most amazing spaces in Panama City and the world. Surely, a view of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from this vantage point will be on all tourist itineraries.

Panama City Waterfront - Convention Center

There is not much information regarding the convention center or what plans are in the works for the waterfront.  It appears from this image that a massive redevelopment of Casco Viejo and Amador will be coming.  Adjacent to the new Convention Center, there are new, medium density structures.  I will keep you posted if I come across more information, but for now I am very happy with the design quality of this proposal which is in the early stages. SOM is one of the largest architectural firms in the world and responsible for some of the tallest.

Panama Financial Tower- Panama Bay

There are many people angry with the design of this tower because according to them, it resembles a penis. In my opinion, a penis is part of human anatomy, and in designing more humanistic spaces, designers often mimic what is found in nature. So why is it bad if a building looks like a penis?  Would you rather it look like this…….

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  1. Skidmore has been doing towers for ages though so you can expect this kind of quality proposal from them; esp a project of this magnitude which will dominate the Panamian skyline, anything less astonishing would have been disappointing. i am still interested to know what inspired the form though.

    • admin wrote:

      The form allows for more flexible and efficient floor plates, unobstructed by a column grid. Also, the wind load of the structure is decreased because there are no flat surfaces to act as a “sail” and capture the full force of the wind. This allows for less structure to be used, saving on resources. I feel that this simple shape will definitely make the building stand out on the skyline. Many buildings try to become recognizable by going to extremes (look at the twisting towers), but I feel that simple and iconic is true beauty in the case of skyscrapers.

  2. Darien wrote:

    oh snap. i love a good punchline.
    alas, SOM’s involvement doesn’t go beyond this here conceptual design. right now the government must be receiving or evaluating proposals from other (local?) firms for DD and CD, so who knows what the final thing will end up looking like.
    fingers crossed.

  3. admin wrote:

    thanks for the update Darien! I wish SOM could work with a local firm in developing this project. It would be a shame to see this design outsourced to the lowest bidder. Unfortunately, I see more and more that clients don’t want to spend money on architects.

  4. Kate wrote:

    I actually like this building a lot. It reminds me a lot of the Gherkin in London but I think this type of architecture in this context is a lot more beautiful. PC needs an interesting skyline. It will be interesting to see what actually is built here.