The architect most forcefully changing the image of Philippine cities is actually based in Brooklyn. From a light-filled studio in Dumbo, Carlos Arnaiz—founder and principal of Carlos Arnaiz Architects (CAZA for short)—oversees a modernization project of transnational proportions. His firm also has offices in Bogotá, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and Manila in the Philippines—capital cities his firm stands to redefine in the coming decade.
Come 2017, CAZA will inaugurate its biggest coup in Manila yet: City Center Tower, a new 27-story office building that will house Google’s Philippine offices and serve as headquarters to several other tech companies. Arnaiz eschews the usual hallmark of corporate architecture—the taut glass-curtain wall—instead opting to create concentric, undulating balconies that disturb the expected placidity of the archetypal office tower. The color scheme is likewise a retreat from the normal hues of corporate architecture: Seen at an angle, the tower’s rectilinear volume has a pearlescent shimmer, and the extruding fin-like balconies have a pinkish glow.
CAZA is also working on a slate of other projects that transcend scale and typology across the Philippines; no other architecture firm is so active in the country. Arnaiz is building public transportation infrastructure in Cebu, where 19 bus stations of his design—everything from the landscaping to street furniture for individual stations—will open by March 2017 to connect a constellation of cities. He also has residential projects and a hospital under construction in the country, a critical mass that points to the likelihood that many of 2017’s most compelling buildings will be built outside the traditional American and European centers of architectural production.