Pearl Bank not worthy of conservation

I frequently support the conservation of our historic landmarks, but the 1970s Pearl Bank Apartments, recently slated for demolition, is not one of them (Pearl Bank architect leads call for iconic tower to stay; ST Online, Feb 13).

Pearl Bank has garnered such attention only because of a conservation bid launched in 2015 by its owners, who wished to salvage the value of their ageing property following three failed attempts at selling en bloc (Pearl Bank Apartments sold on fourth try; Feb 14).

To support this bid, Pearl Bank was actively promoted as a historic landmark.

Yet, beyond the hype, is Pearl Bank's significance greater than other buildings from the 1970s like the CPF Building - a skyscraper representative of a key local institution - whose recent demolition was treated with such indifference?

Ironically, Pearl Bank belongs to an era when architects and planners held conservation in low regard, and far greater heritage was indiscriminately sacrificed for hasty development.

Few today realise that Pearl Bank itself sits on a plot that used to form part of the historic colonial Outram Prison's site.

Is Pearl Bank the type of building intended to be a lasting monument to begin with?

Even its owners do not regard it as a quality building.

At barely 40 years - very new for a "historic building" - it has already aged so badly (Pearl Bank Apartments likely to be demolished despite calls to conserve building; ST Online, Feb 17).

Like scores of other apartments from the 1970s, Pearl Bank was conceived as a commodity, to be replaced once it outlived its economic worth.

No one was under the illusion that it would be preserved for posterity.

We should be discerning about conservation.

There are more worthy buildings out there deserving of attention.

Loke Hoe Kit

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Pearl Bank not worthy of conservation'. Print Edition | Subscribe