The beauty lie s within: The Times Squa re Building

No 3, Vol.11 , October – November 2015

The Chief Architect rambled on – ‘the best address in Saigon’. Pardon me, I thought that was where I live on Le Thanh Ton Street, I thought. But fair enough; if your front door is on Nguyen Hue Boulevard and your back door is on Dong Khoi Street, can justifiably stake a claim to that. ‘Iconic building...’ Hang on a moment, this is a fairly non-descript concrete and glass skyscraper that could be anywhere in the in the world. In my book among the latest editions to Saigon skyline it is only that great shard the Bitexco building that could boast such a distinction. However, the Times Square Reverie building truly has become a landmark, especially at night time when it illuminates in different colours.

There we were – a motley assembly of public relations people, press folk, and sales representatives of elite Italian design companies flown in from around the world – we had gathered to undertake a tour of the magnificent interiors of the building; not just the public areas, but also the luxury hotel rooms and flats (residences) adorned and embellished with the very best that the world leader of interior design, Italy, has to offer. The words of one of the sales persons could have spoken for all the companies: ‘We do not deliver according to a standard, but everything is exceptional and bespoke’.

The Chief Architect Mr Ken Lui went through the litany of firms contributing to the exquisite beauty of the building's interior. Firstly, there is Colombostile, a centuries-old handmade wooden furniture firm. Venini specialises in lighting and glass Venetian style. Baldi is a jewellery company, famous here for the shining green Bechstein grand piano and clock tower, which feature the semi-precious stone Malachite and beside which many Vietnamese like to have their photograph taken. VG Company produces chandeliers and tableware which can be appreciated in the 'Romeo and Juliet' Italian Restaurant. B and B Italian are interior design specialists. Visionnaire is another interior design outfit whose furniture can be appreciated in the hotel rooms and lobby of The Reverie five-star hotel.

Giorgetti is another wooden furniture company. Poltona Frau, Casselli and Cassini is another world leader in top-of-the-range furniture, whist Snaidero Co provides modern luxury kitchens. Vittorio Griffoni are for bespoke porcelain, lighting and artisan furniture. Finally, Rubelli are artisan fabric experts responsible for adorning the Grand Ballroom.
One could consider the Times Square building to be a permanent exhibition or museum of contemporary Italian design. The serious student of art, architecture and design would benefit from a tour like we were given. However, if you are just an ordinary mortal or the curious average citizen not staying in the hotel or apartments do not refrain from a peek. A cat can look at a Queen, as we English say. Why not take a look at the public areas. Just take a stroll into the hotel lobby to admire the glory of the reception counter inspired by Michael Jackson's favourite sofa. Coming in from Dong Khoi, admire the decor from the escalators culminating in the dazzling grand piano on an upper floor. Or, Why not have a buffet in the splendid atrium style seventh floor restaurant? If you do, make sure to walk one floor up to see the exquisite clock tower.

Mr Ken Lui, the Chief Architect of Times Square Building. Photos: WMC Group

We were shown the hotel rooms and residences for lease, every one of which is furnished differently. If you are rich and fortunate enough for this, make sure you see a few before making your choice. The crowning glory are the two presidential suites on the thirty eighth floor - the last word in suites! Each one is on two floors connected by a winding staircase and with stunning views of the river and Saigon cityscape below. They are worthy of a United States President and his entourage. Lastly, we saw the business centre which has its own ten-seater meeting room on one of the highest floors. If you stayed here, you would not need to step outside the building to conduct your business.
This morning tour of Italian luxury took me back to my European roots – it was a brief escape from the Vietnamese culture and family I now spend my days in. Every modern city embraces world culture to some extent from time to time. Kew Gardens in London has its famous ten-story octagonal oriental pagoda and Monaco its wonderful Japanese gardens. A shrine to the splendour of Italian design only adds to glory of Saigon helping it back onto its pedestal as the Pearl of the Orient.n

Times Square Building
22 - 36 Nguyen Hue St, Ben Nghe Ward, Dist.1

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