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AIDEAPhilippi

AIDEA Philippines A Filipinos brain: Worlds leadin


Architectural Design Firm
Monday,March25,2013

Business,Construction,Design,Economy,Engineering,Philippines

AideadesignforUPTechnohub

Filipino architect designs buildings in 40 countries


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AIDEAPhilippinesAFilipinosbrain:WorldsleadingArchitecturalDesignFirm|PHILIPPINEPESORESERVE

After working in Hong Kong for nine years, architect Abelardo Tolentino Jr. returned to the Philippi
1998 to lead the local unit of a British architectural company at the height of the Asian financial crisis
company, which he bought five years later, is now one of the world's largest architectural firms with p
in 40 countries.

"We have had over 500 projects in 40 countries since 2003. I would say in terms of number, 60 perc
the Philippines and the rest in other countries," Tolentino says in an interview in Makati City. Aidea
Philippines designs projects in Europe, Asia including the Middle East, Australia and the United State

Tolentino, the founder, president and chief executive of the Makati-based Aidea Philippines Inc., was
when he came back from Hong Kong where he worked for prestigious companies such as HOK Asi
and John Lei Architects Ltd.

He served as managing director of the Philippine subsidiary of Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall, a U
architectural company in 1998. Tolentino, however, took over the struggling local unit in 2003 and re
as Aidea, which he says is a Latin word that connotes "from ideas to reality."

"We were a branch of a UK company called RMJM. We started as its subsidiary. But in 2003, we loc
the ownership of the company. Basically, I acquired the firm and we renamed it as Aidea," Tolentino

From a 25-man team 10 years ago, Aidea Philippines has grown to become one of the largest architec
companies in the world with 170 professionals, including architects, interior designers, graphic design
programmers and urban planners. In 2013, Aidea was ranked 80th in the Building Design's World
Architecture Top 100, an annual list of the world's largest architectural firms.

The company occupies two floors at the FGU Building on Ayala Ave. in Makati City. Its internation
Aidea Integrated Technologies, is also based in the same office, but provides designs and professiona
to international clients in 40 countries.

"This is our 10th year on our own. We were able to expand the practice when we became all Filipino
turned out that way. When we went on our own, we did not have limitation in the market, unlike wh
were still working with our past UK company," he says.
Null
AideadesignforNewManagementofficeofSOCARinBaku,Azerbaijan

Aidea designed the West European headquarters of Procter & Gamble in Geneva, Switzerland.
says the company "got involved from the start till the end of the project."

The firm also designed the P&G headquarters in other parts of Europe such as Madrid, Paris, Rome,
Moscow as well as the Canlubang, Laguna plant of the multinational company. "When we had the P&
account, we had so many projects in Europe that we had to assign one of our architects to Brussels
the account," he says.

Tolentino says Aidea now works with Japanese and Australian companies to design projects in variou
the globe. About 40 percent of Aidea's projects are based outside the Philippines, although the desig
being outsourced from the company's Makati office. Its projects abroad include buildings, plants, res
facilities and offices.
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"What we aim for is to have a good mix of local and international projects. We don't want to limit ou
to exclusively [local projects] here. We want to operate outside the country," he says.

In the Philippines, Aidea has designed many of the modern landmarks in the commercial business dis
Makati and Fort Bonifacio as well as other parts of Metro Manila such as the Columns, Serendra,
Technohub, Greenbelt, Convergys, Nuvali, Globe Telecom, High Street South, One Global Place, Pa
Terraces, Garden Towers, Senta, People Support, Arya Residences, Polakay Resort and Solaris Tower
also has projects in Cebu for Cebu Holdings, which is another Ayala-controlled company.

"I think in the local scene, what gave us the break is the Columns. We were a very small firm with on
people during that time. Now, we have close to 170," says Tolentino.

Aidea Philippines' biggest local client is Ayala Land Inc. along with its subsidiaries Premier, Alveo and

Aidea is also now involved in the development of Ayala Land's major projects such as Circuit Makati
North in Quezon City and Bonifacio High Street South in Taguig City. The company has also worke
Nestle for its offices.

Tolentino says the development of High Street South in Fort Bonifacio will keep Aidea Philippines b
the next decade. "That will be another long-term project. It will take eight to 10 years. When it's do
close to retirement," he says.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts has recently recognized Tolentino as the 2013 rec
Ani ng Dangal for Architecture and Allied Arts. The NCCA gives the award in seven art disciplines t
Filipinos who excel in the international scene.

In 2007, Tolentino was named Innovation Entrepreneur during the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of
awards for applying innovative approaches, business solutions, and technologies that resulted in impr
business processes and company growth.

Aidea Philippines develops its own software and solutions to improve efficiency in design work.
says recently, the company embraced the cloud technology, so that everybody in the team can work a
or anytime.

Apart from winning contracts, the Aidea team also bagged grand prizes in international virtual compe
such as Build Qatar Live and Build London Live, which are prestigious design competitions among
architectural companies.

The Aidea team beat dozens of participants from different countries for the best museum designs in
Qatar and London modeling competitions. While the designs for the museums are virtual competitio
"nonetheless, it is prestigious because we are the only participant out of the Philippines and one of tw
Asia," Tolentino says, referring to the case of the London prize.

Ironically, Tolentino, who grew up in Rizal province, says architecture was not his first dream profess
in high school. "I wanted to be a computer engineer," he says.

His father, who owned a small construction firm, advised him to pursue architecture instead. He gra
from the University of Sto. Tomas with a degree in architecture in 1987. Two decades later, UST hon
him as The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni in Architecture for 2008.

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Tolentino remembers his first project as an architect. For two years, he helped in the interior design
renovation of Intercontinental Hotel in Makati.

Tolentino says while he admires famous architects, there was no individual architect who had the mo
influence on his designs. "What I do is I research on famous architects and try to understand their th
architecture and design and see how I can apply some of that when I do my work. I always try to mi
of different things to come up with something that is hopefully better," he says.

"There is always something good in the works of architects. But instead of looking at the personality
their work and I look at their thinking. What I realize is that they have different and distinct ways of
approaching design," says Tolentino, who admires the classical buildings in Rome, Italy and Penang,
Tolentino says Aidea Philippines is different from other architectural firms because of its processes.

"We don't have a house style, but it is really our process of how we come up with projects that makes
different. We believe that every project is unique. When we do a project, we try to understand
the vision of the client about the project and his needs," he says. "It is the process of how we come u
the design that makes us different so that we respond better to the needs of the users and the client."

"We are also heavily investing in technology and putting the latest infrastructure in the office so we c
more competitive. We anticipate that [infrastructure] will differentiate our company from our com
he adds.

Now at 47, Tolentino sees to it that he lives a balanced lifestyle. "I try not to work on weekends. I st
home or play golf," says Tolentino, who lives in Makati.

His work schedule on weekdays normally consists of three to four meetings a day. He still gets invol
design work while overseeing the entire operations of the company, although much of the supervisor
now delegated to senior managers.

Tolentino says Aidea proves that Filipino talents can excel in the global stage. "In the Philippines, th
foreign architects that come here. We call them design consultants and they partner with local firms
do projects. But we do it the other way. When we go overseas, we are the foreign consultants and w
with local architects," he says.

The international operations require Tolentino to travel "but not as much as I used to" as he now del
the work to his employees.

"Now, I travel when I am needed. My role now is developing the business and creating alliances with
partners. For the day-to-day management of projects, we have senior people who deal with that. Ot
the company will not grow, if it is centralized," he says. "We structured the company in such a way it
decentralized when senior managers take more responsibilities and that frees up my time to do other

Tolentino says Filipino architects are among the best in the world. "When you go to Singapore or H
Kong, many architectural firms there have Filipinos as senior people," he says, adding that many of h
classmates from UST are also working in other countries.

The problem, he says, is that the Philippines gets deprived of these talents. "There is a shortage of ex
talent. The good ones will be always employed but some of them left for overseas work. The threat
overseas work, especially the regional employment," he says.
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However, he admits that some of his former employees who decided to work abroad recommended
companies looking for local partners. "Interesting enough, those who are working abroad, they pass
to us," he says.

Tolentino says this is because Aidea Philippines' employees, including those that left for overseas job
high regard for the company. "When they come home for vacation, they make it a point to visit the o
One of the things that we would like to keep in the office is the atmosphere that it is like a family," h

Aidea Philippines, already recognized as one of the largest, still aims to grow bigger as a company to i
Filipino talents and designs to the world, says Tolentino.

"We plan to expand locally. One of the things that we try to do is promote local talent. We have no
establishing international offices. We would rather partner with international companies but our base

always be in the Philippines. We always want to be identified as a Filipino company. We think there
enough talent here that we can tap to work in the international level," he says.
Manila Standard Today
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15comments:
ANONYMOUS MARCH25,2013AT8:01AM

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insteadofjustworkinginSaudiArabia'shotdessert,IthinktheywouldmoreprosperhereinthePhilippines...

MechanicalEngineers+CivilEngineers+AIDEAPhilippines=FilipinoEngineering,DesignandConstructionCo
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