The records show that the Komplex Tun Abdul Razak's (Komtar) tower at its completion in 1985 was the tallest building in Asia - and Malaysia of course. What this often quoted statistic fails to reveal is how cutting edge its concept and design was (and still is). Never before had such a massive urban regeneration project of this type been undertaken in Malaysia, which placed social and administrative benefits at the heart of its planning.
Komtar's looming physical presence is a reminder of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu's vision for Penang, yet the background to its construction provides a more revealing insight into a time when Penang's "can-do" spirit led the way. Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat, the principal architect and director of the Komtar development consortium, explains.
Laying the groundwork for Komtar
"Architects Team 3 was already invited by the City Council of George Town to advise on a hawker centre in the Prangin Road area in the early 1960s. From then it was obvious that Penang was in a state of decline and what it needed was urban renewal planning.
The interesting challenge came as a result of the Robert Nathan report which was initiated before Chong Eu became Chief Minister but was completed during his period and he saw the importance of economic development. Although the Nathan report did not include any physical plans, it alluded to the need for urban renewal.
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