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The government says: “Build, Build, Build.” We say: “Design, Design, Design.” Considering the totality of what gets built in this country, good architecture is nothing short of a miracle. But the building boom of the past few years has yielded some miracles. There’s the NEX Tower, with its four-story lobby and 11-meter-high green walls, designed by SOM. There’s the Cor Jesu chapel, a collaboration of Kenneth Cobonpue and Zubu Design Associates. Then, there’s Budji+Royal Architecture+Design who have been successfully dealing with tremendous pressure to deliver on skimpy budgets and abbreviated timelines. What they are creating in just over a year’s time in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, is miraculous indeed, thanks to general contractor MTD Philippines’ resolve to finish months ahead of the 2019 SEA Games athletes’ arrival in November. Meanwhile, the haste of the government’s infrastructure spending bonanza is not a little alarming. But if Secretary Mark Villar is to be believed, the DPWH is getting its mantra right: “Right Project, Right Cost, Right On Time.” Could we please add ‘Right Design’ to that mantra? Yes, we need bridges, roads, airports, seaports, and railways. And we need with equal urgency the discipline, the artistry, and the miracle of design to save our country from the blight that comes from growth without design.

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