ONE OF the biggest names in Philippine architecture is a Thomasian.

Known to his friends as Meloy, architect Carmelo Casa founded the architectural firm CASAS+Architects, which has done some of the buildings of Ayalaland, Robinsons Land, and Megaworld Corp., among others.

As a child, Meloy initially wanted to become a boxer, but his parents never allowed him to move past this“crazy” idea.

“At first I wanted to become a boxer because at that time my idol was Flash Elorde,” said Meloy, who is also a big fan of Manny Pacquiao.

Meloy grew up in a family of artists in Sampaloc, Manila, and dabbled early with caricatures.

“Ever since I was young, I loved to draw. I remember sitting outside our house and drawing its façade,” he said. “I wanted to become an architect because I was encouraged by my father and was exposed to my uncle and aunt who are an architect and an interior designer, respectively.”

Meloy went on to enroll at the old UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts, and later worked as an apprentice for an architect.

“It actually helped me in college and confirmed my passion to be an architect,” he recalled.

In 1978, he landed in the Top 10 in the architecture board exam. Hong Kong was soon his destination where he worked at Eric Cummin & Asso. Ten years later, he partnered with architect Jose Pedro Recio to form the Recio+Casas HK Ltd. They opened their Manila office two years later. Their first project: The Pacific Plaza in Ayala Avenue, the tallest building in the country at that time.

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His partnership with Recio, whom he fondly calls Bong, paved the way to the construction of a number of skyscrapers and establishments now dotting the urban landscape. They include the Bellagio Towers, The Icon, The Infinity, Eastwood City, St. Francis Towers, and The Shang Grand Tower.

After 20 years, Meloy went on his own and put up CASAS+Architects (C+A).

Building complexities

Meloy began with an initial crop of 70 people. His workforce grew to 140 in four years.

Their projects include Resorts World Newport City, UP Law Center in Fort Bonifacio, Grand Hyatt Metrobank Center and The Hyatt Residences, both in Bonifacio Global City, and One Shangri-la Place and Mall.

Meloy’s clients are the biggest real estate firms operating in the country: Metro Pacific, Megaworld Corp., Ayalaland, Alphaland, Vistaland, Federalnd, Nuvoland, Shang Properties, and Robinsons Land.

“We have just embarked on a five-year program due to our long ranged projects on hand,” he said.

Meloy is also the man behind the design of the Quadricentennial Pavillion, UST’s new sports complex.

According to him, the architectural planning of the pavilion was designed with multi-point entries for the convenience of students. They also elevated the structure to avoid the perennial flooding of the vicinity, being close to España Boulevard.

“It was elevated to fit 5,000 sitting capacity primarily for the university’s use and other sports activities such as the UAAP or the NCAA games,” Meloy said.

C+A’s involvement with UST projects started during the term of former Rector Tamerlane Lana, O.P., who initiated a master plan for a more “organized campus.”

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“At that time, there was a plan for the construction of the car park building in front of the UST hospital,” he said. “Before it was constructed, we were commissioned to relocate the entire AMV-College of Accountancy above this structure and we successfully executed this undertaking.”

Strength, utility, and beauty

Meloy sees to it that he would always practice “green architecture” as a highlight of his designs. He looks at the right orientation and planning to maximize the need of an environment-friendly structure.

“We always respect the existing trees or natural springs within the site,” he said. “Nowadays, we are always encouraged to practice water conservation, less use of energy, especially electricity, and the use of recycled materials in all our projects.”

A lot of the structures raised at this age and time have exposed modernity and minimalism which have become trends in architecture, which Meloy said he considers in his designs.

“With the high cost of living, modern minimalism is not only a trend but more of a reality nowadays,”he said. “I have learned to accept that changes in architectural designs have to be accepted and embraced due to the major contributions of modern technology in architecture and engineering.”

Meloy believes that architecture is never a solitary pursuit. An architect, he says, needs to help other professionals such as engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects.

His vision as an architect is to leave a legacy to his partners and associates, and to continue practicing good architecture even when he is not around anymore.

“The thing that stays in my mind is the saying, ‘You’re only as good as your last project’,” he said. “This keeps me to strive even harder to be a better architect, realizing the importance of continuous education, even at my age, that’s why I always believe that we have to see the world to be a good architect.”

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With the country’s developing economy and with architecture being at the forefront, Meloy said the architects have a huge responsibility to practice their profession in the best way they can.

“To be a good architect, you really have to love your profession. You always have to think and live architecture at all times,” he said. “You have to see the world and never stop learning. And don’t forget to pray and offer your work to our Master Architect.”

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