In celebration of the National Architecture Week (NAW), we took a look at some of the most interesting architectural structures that have shaped our cultural landscape.

1. Main Building – University of Santo Tomas

University of Santo Tomas Main Building
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Designed by a Spanish priest-civil engineer Rev. Fr. Roque Ruaño in 1920 to 1923, the main building of the Philippine’s oldest university, located along Espana Boulevard, is also the first earthquake resistant building in the country. The design was fine tuned after the lessons learned from the Great Kantō earthquake that flattened Tokyo and Yokohama in September 1, 1923.

2. Quezon Hall – University of the Philippines Diliman

Quezon Hall UP Diliman
(Image source:

Designed by Juan Nakpil, the first architect to receive the National Artist award in 1973, Quezon Hall houses the administrative offices of the university located in Diliman, Quezon City. Constructed in the 1950s, the building sports an eclectic style, combining different styles into one structure. The same style is used for the university’s main library, also designed by Nakpil.

3. Nicanor Reyes Hall – Far Eastern University Complex

Nicanor Reyes Hall - FEU
(Image source: FEU website)

Considered the largest body of work done in Art Deco style in Manila, the Nicanor Reyes Hall is part of the five buildings in the FEU complex designed by Pablo Antonio. Antonio is the second architect to receive the National Artist award in 1976, a year after his death. In 2005, the five Art Deco-style buildings earned a citation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage.

4. Philippine International Convention Center

Philippine International Convention Center
(Image source:

An example of the massive, fortress-style Brutalist architecture, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) is a brainchild of Leandro Locsin, one of the greatest master architects that the Philippines has produced. For a state-of-the-art structure, the PICC was surprisingly completed within only 23 months from 1974 to 1976. It has hosted foreign and local conventions, including the annual Awards Night of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS).

5. National Theater – Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex

National Theater CCP Complex
(Image source:

The National Theater or Tanghalang Pambansa, formerly the Theater of Performing Arts, is the CCP’s flagship venue and houses its principal offices. Like the PICC, the theater is only a part of the CCP complex, a sprawling 88-hectare government owned structure.

The National Theater’s design is another work by Leandro Locsin and carries his signature style of the “floating volume,” which combines a heavy use of concrete with elevated structures. The result is a startling contrast of a massive looking structure that seemingly floats.

6. Tanghalang Mariang Makiling – National Arts Center

Tanghalang Mariang Makiling
(Image source:

Part of the National Arts Center, the Tanghalang Mariang Makiling is a performance and arts venue of Philippine High School for the Arts’ students and other artists. This is another master work by Leandro Locsin who radically adapted the nipa hut design for this piece.

7. San Miguel Corporation Building

San Miguel Corporation Building
(Image source:

Designed by the Mañosa brothers (Manuel, Francisco, and Jose), the San Miguel Corporation Building in Ortigas serves as the head office of one of the largest corporations in the Philippines. The building’s unique design is inspired by the Banaue rice terraces. Landscaping is done by the National Artist for Architecture in 2006, Ildefonso Santos, who is considered the father of Philippine landscape architecture.

8. Pearl Farm Beach Resort

Pearl Farm Beach Resort
(Image source:

Located in Samal island of Davao City, the Pearl Farm Beach Resort is built on what was once a farm for culturing pearls. A handiwork of Francisco Mañosa who was a strong advocate of indigenous architecture, the resort’s design was adapted from the traditional stilt houses built along the coastline. In 2009, Mañosa received the National Artist award for architecture.

9. Philam Life Building – Manila

(Image source:

Built in 1961, the building is designed by Carlos Arguelles in the International Style, with its emphasis on rectilinear forms and plane surfaces stripped of ornamentation. Arguelles was also the architect behind the Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino (formerly Manila Hilton) and the Development Bank of the Philippines Building in Makati.

A well-loved landmark not only for its design, the Philam Life Building houses an auditorium that has long served as a venue for music and performance productions. The insurance company itself had moved its head office to the Net Lima building in Bonifaco Global City last year.

10. The Mind Museum

The Mind Museum in BGC
(Image source:

The Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City is hard to miss. For its sheer design alone, it is a landmark work from the father and son team of Lor and Ed Calma, and their architectural firm.

Due to its amorphic form which mimics the cellular membrane, the museum has no singular facade that remains the same when viewed all around. Recently, it won an international award from the 20th annual Thea Awards for its design and exhibitions, a first for a science museum in Asia.

11. Zuellig Building

Zuellig Building
(Image source:

On any given day, the Zuellig Building mesmerizes with its ghostly beauty. Its all-glass façade with barely discernible edges makes this premium-grade office building in Makati business district blend and even disappear in its surrounding sky and landscape.

The first structure to receive a platinum level of Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification – the highest in the country – from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the Zuellig building is built with sustainability in mind. Its design is a collaboration between the New York-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and 50-year architectural veteran W.V Coscolluela & Associates.

12. G.T. International Tower

 G.T. International Tower
(Image source:

Developed by Federal Land, the building takes its initials from its owner and chairman of the Metrobank Group, George Ty. The tower sports a 10-storey vertical fin for its crown and is one of the most recognizable buildings in the Makati skyline. Its design is a collaboration between the local architectural firm GF & Partners Architects and Gozar Planners Philippines in collaboration with the international firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

13. Mall of Asia Arena

Mall of Asia Arena
(Image source:

Located within the SM Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City, Mall of Asia Arena is the newest sports and events arena in the metro after its official opening in 2012. With a seating capacity of 16,000 and a full-house capacity of 20,000 – it rivals the Smart Araneta Coliseum for the biggest indoor arena in Southeast Asia.

A regular playing venue for the country’s major basketball leagues, the arena also serves as concert venue for local and international performance artists. The arena’s distinctive look is designed by the Miami-based architectural firm Arquitectonica.

14. SM Aura Premier

SM Aura Premier
(Image source:

Recently opened in May 2013, SM Aura Premier is envisaged to be a luxury mall within the flourishing Bonifacio Global City. This shows in the fluid design where the 29-storey serviced office tower flows into the mall base and creates an overall shape quite different from most SM malls.

With green design in mind, the mall also features a multi-level Sky Park designed to reduce heat. The mall’s green architecture and modern design are by Arquitectonica, architect on record W.V. Coscolluela & Associates, with interiors done by Sydney-based EDGE Interior Designers.

15. Pacific Plaza Towers

Pacific Plaza Towers in BGC
(Image source:

A landmark high-end condo project in Bonifacio Global City, Pacific Plaza Towers stands out from among the other luxury condo towers in the area. Its eye-catching twin tower curvilinear design is another handiwork by the Arquitectonica group (the same designer behind SM Aura Premier and Mall of Asia Arena) along with the Recio + Casas Architects, a local firm with a solid portfolio of residential and commercial projects, both here and abroad.

16. Proscenium

Proscenium by Rockwell
(Image source:

One of the most awaited pre-selling projects by Rockwell Land, the Proscenium is designed by Carlos Ott, the Uruguayan architect renowned for his design of L’Opéra de la Bastille, a modern theater icon in Paris.

A sweeping structure of steel and glass, the Proscenium is built around a cultural plaza comprised of a multi-purpose hall, fine arts museum, book museum, and art galleries. Turnovers for the individual towers of the project are expected to be from 2017 to 2019.

Do you know of other iconic architectural structures in the country that should be included here? Share them with us by commenting below.

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  • Zoe Dela Cruz

    I guess I should really roam around the city especially in BGC, LOL.

  • Yamot Tomay

    This is the best one I’ve seen so far.

  • Yamot Tomay

    Wow amazing architectural structures…