The restoration of Stadium Merdeka and the development of the Merdeka 118 Tower in Kuala Lumpur represent a significant milestone in Malaysia’s growth as a nation. Merdeka 118, set to open its doors by the end of this year, is an iconic building that stands as a testament to Malaysia’s progress. Owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) through its subsidiary, PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd, this landmark development will be a focal point of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.
The Merdeka 118 Tower will become the new headquarters for PNB, with the organization occupying 17 floors of the tower. This move is a significant step forward in the development of the building. While the groundwork for the stadium’s restoration and the tower’s construction began in 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its completion by a year. The project is now in its final phase, awaiting approvals from relevant authorities, including the Fire and Rescue Department.
Once PNB relocates from its current location in Menara PNB, Jalan Tun Razak, the anchor tenant, Maybank, is expected to move in next year, achieving a 70% occupancy rate. Additionally, Stadium Merdeka, closed since 2016, is expected to reopen to the public in the first quarter of next year.
Merdeka 118 is poised to be a transformational development for Kuala Lumpur, comprising premium office buildings, hotels, residences, a mall, heritage sites, a museum, and a mosque. The tower’s 678.9-meter height makes it the second-tallest building globally, following Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Designed by Melbourne-based Fender Katsalidis, it includes a 40-story spire reaching 160.4 meters.
The development also includes other significant projects in the area, such as the 65-story Merdeka Residences East Tower, the 63-story Merdeka Residences West Tower, and the Oakwood Premier Kuala Lumpur serviced residences. The entire Merdeka 118 development, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM7 billion, spans 3.1 million square feet of floor space.
One of the tower’s key attractions will be its observation deck, standing 500 meters above the ground, making it the highest in Southeast Asia. For thrill-seekers, there will be an “Edge Walk” where visitors can safely walk on a glass floor, suspended high above the city.
To address concerns about potential traffic congestion in the area, which is close to Petaling Street, Merdeka 118 will provide convenient access to public transportation. It has its Merdeka MRT station and offers access to the Plaza Rakyat and Hang Tuah LRT stations, as well as the Maharajalela and Hang Tuah monorail stops. Additionally, traffic flow in the area will be managed to alleviate congestion once the skyscraper is fully operational.
Merdeka 118 is also committed to sustainability, working towards achieving a triple green platinum rating with international sustainability certifications. As of August 2023, it has completed 97.8% of its work, making it the first tower in Malaysia striving for this level of sustainability. International companies are showing interest in operating in Merdeka 118, seeking environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-certified buildings, which are currently limited in the city.
While some may confuse Merdeka 118 with the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), it is essential to clarify that Merdeka 118 aims to position itself as a symbol of Malaysia’s heritage, culture, and sustainable building practices, rather than being solely a financial hub. The tower’s design is inspired by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s iconic “Merdeka!” declaration in 1957, and its spire reflects this historic moment.
From the vantage point of Stadium Merdeka, the view of Merdeka 118 offers a captivating experience, showcasing the nation’s journey from 1957 to modern times, development, and architectural progress. It stands as a testament to Malaysia’s growth over the past six decades and serves as a symbol of its continued development.