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Greek-Australian Architect Builds Second Tallest Building in the World

Greek Australian archtect
Merdeka 118 is pictured in 2019. Credit: Sergei Gussev, CC BY 2.0/Wikipedia

By Floy Bossinas

Greek-born Australian architect Nonda Katsalidis of Fender Katsalidis designed the “Merdeka 118,” a mega tall skyscraper in the historic district in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which will be the second tallest building in the world.

The tower, built at the site of the signing of the country’s 1957 Declaration of Independence, will boast a parking lot with a capacity of 8,500 cars and a four-acre urban park.

Expected to be finished at the end of 2022, the highest observation deck in Southeast Asia is near a number of pre-war historic landmarks.

“Merdeka 118” overlooking Downtown Kuala Lumpur. Credit: InterEdit88 , CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia

The Park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur will occupy the top 17 floors of the building, which has received a platinum rating in green design by three certification councils. It has local access to mass rapid public transit as well.

Greek-Australian architect honored with Order of Australia

The acclaimed architect of the building earned his master’s degree at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. In 1996, he co-founded what is now Fender Katsalidis. His earliest, smaller projects include Cafe Byzantine and Metro Brasserie in Carlton, Melbourne.

Nonda Katsalidis
Nonda Katsalidis, the Greek-Australian architect of the world’s second-tallest building. Credit: Fender Katsalidis

In 2021, Katsalidis was honored with the Order of Australia for “significant service to architecture, and to sustainable construction innovations.”

His was born in Athens, Greece. His family left for Melbourne when he was just five.

He is a pioneer on the urban landscape integrating art and architecture while developing sustainable construction technologies.

Fender Katsalides describes the steel and glass tower as “an expression of its structural pathways, resulting in a pattern of triangular Malaysian arts and crafts.”

The Southeast Asian project has brought the Australian firm together with local architect RSP for tower design, GDP for retail design, and Sasaki Associates for landscaping architecture. On October 12, 2021, the final beam known as “topping out” was placed, with a light at the very top.

The lower body of the building, “seemingly cleft from solid stone” according to the firm’s website, “comprises a lower body for hotel access at one end, and at the opposite end, an upper lobby for offices and retail.”

The construction of Merdeka (which means “Independence,”) 118 was funded by Permodalan Nasional Berhad with a budget of RM 5 billion ($1.2 billion). Committing to “a search for something better,” Katsaladis has grown from a sole proprietorship to mentor all the other architects in his Melbourne practice, growing the firm into the highly respected international design firm that it is today.

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