Roland Polendey on following your dreams & pushing yourself

Roland Polendey, on being an Architect

The structure at the corner of Arnaiz Ave. and San Lorenzo Drive in Makati Ave. is a looker. Although just rising four stories high compared to the luxury hotel behemoths near it, it’s simple curving facade can hold its own. At night when it’s lit up, you can’t help but admire its seeming simplicity and uniqueness amidst the boxy buildings that make up much of the edifices in most of Makati City and perhaps in urban areas in the Philippines.

“That’s Polendey’s.” An architect more than 15 years ago might have quipped when seeing the curving facade then. But this building, Hotel Céleste has just been around since 2007. The architect, of course, is no stranger to this style. When peers designed boxes more than a decade and a half ago, he was already introducing curving designs and bold colors in his residential projects.

Early years of Architect Roland Polendey

Architect Roland Polendey (photo from the magazine’s page)

Architect Roland Polendey has always wanted to be an architect. He remembers fondly that when he was still in grade school, he was already doodling houses and construction tools and crediting his father for his industriousness and a cousin for his aesthetic sensibilities. “That was my goal. That was my ambition that one day I will be an architect. Fortunately, it happened,” he enthuses. 

Graduating at the Far Eastern University in 1976, he passed the licensure exams in the Top 10 and first worked with Turalba and Associates for 10 years, getting involved in several projects ranging from commercial, resorts and residential but with a multifunctional role like estimator, designer, draftsman and construction supervisor. It was the uncertainty of the time in 1986, with the coup and People Power that a friend enticed him to work in Papua New Guinea. There he worked with Dempsey Architects as an Architectural Designer. After two years and a half, and feeling that he has bigger dreams to achieve than working in that country, he came back to the Philippines and took a job with Fil-Estate Properties, Inc.

For the next 15 years, he has worked with various commercial and residential projects and has risen from the ranks, eventually becoming Vice President for Engineering and Planning in that company. At that time, Fil-Estate was one of the biggest real estate firms, doing high end residential projects like Hillsborough and Southwoods. These were so popular that, as what the Architect reminisce, “bangin pa lang, nabebenta na.” We were the trendsetter at that time with Mediterranean style subdivisions in the country with huge clubhouses and grand entrance gates. Many high end subdivisions built with units selling like hotcakes. I was the chief architect and it was a good experience as I was really able to practice my craft. To design these, we were sent abroad, to France, Spain and research about the style.”

New opportunities

Founding Polendey and Associates in 1993 opened up new opportunities. With it, various kind of projects: residential, hotels and resorts, commercial and institutional works were completed. But Architect Polendey wanted to be different. Freed from the design constraints of Fil-Estate, which was heavy on Mediterranean style, he was able to experiment by introducing something different during that time.

“I started designing with curves. The balcony, the window, these have curving elements. I think I should put something different to it. At that time, probably 15 or more years ago, it was all about straight lines and edges. I wanted to soften it with curves. I also experimented with bold colors like oranges and other bright hues. Nobody wanted to take risks but I don’t want boring stuff. Who will question me? You just have to do it.” The results of his experiments were worthwhile as clients loved it and others copied it. 

Hotel Celeste in Makati was one of his memorable projects. Working closely with the owner, a jeweler, who wanted a high end residential structure. But to tie it with their Boracay property, made it into a high end hotel with a homey feel. Curiously, the design was actually based on the architecture of the Anfiteatro Flavio, the Colosseum in Rome. As what Architect Polendey narrates, should stand out, a unique structure in the area. The result, a four story structure with a beautiful curved facade that is European in style. The interior is opulent, from the lobby to the individually designed rooms with bold palettes. 

For someone who loves challenges and breaking the norm, Architect Roland Polendey finds working on projects situated in rolling terrains satisfying. “Fairways and Bluewater (before it was bought by Megaworld) in Boracay challenged our creativity. You have to do a 360 degree plan, as we architects call it, minding the resort, the greens, seaside, forest…” Currently, he is busy with a resort project in El Nido which also is challenging as they are not allowed to touch the natural environment but build around it. He’s excited even, as it involves different kinds of terrain, from the seaside, beach, to slopes which entails a different kind of approach than what he is used to doing in most of his projects which are mainly located in urban areas.

While busy with projects around the Philippines and abroad, Architect Roland finds time to unwind. Working 12 hours per day, he finds playing golf therapeutic although not as much as he wants due to work. But he avers that he takes working breaks like taking a walk or ride a bike near his office. Or dropping in to his wife’s meetings or have coffee within the area to keep those ideas and inspiration flowing. As he says, “I work while I play and I play while I work.” 

Arch. Roland Polendey has an extensive, almost 40 year experience in the industry. He is the Principal Architect and General Manager of  Polendey and Associates with more than 25 years. The firm offers comprehensive architectural, engineering and interior design, master planning, construction management and supervision.

Originally published in D+C magazine, 4th quarter of 2015