India's new diamond exchange pips the Pentagon as world's largest office block

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Jun 22, 2024

India's new diamond exchange pips the Pentagon as world's largest office block

A glittering new building that will house India’s mammoth diamond market has grabbed the title of the world’s single largest office block. It comprises nine 15-storey towers that make up some 2

A glittering new building that will house India’s mammoth diamond market has grabbed the title of the world’s single largest office block. It comprises nine 15-storey towers that make up some 2 million square metres of floor space.

Issued on: 06/08/2023 - 09:03

Pundits predict the Surat Diamond Bourse, which took four years to build as a "city within a city", will help India's domestic diamond industry deflect the impact of the war in Ukraine.

Bourse chairman Vallabhbhai Patel said the facility in Gujarat state would have an annual turnover of 25 billion euros.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is tipped to inaugurate the new bourse, labelled the building “a testament to India’s entrepreneurial spirit”.

The first occupants will move in from November.

“It will serve as a hub for trade, innovation, and collaboration, further boosting our economy and creating employment opportunities,” Modi tweeted last month.

Indian diamantaires cut and polish nine out of every 10 stones that are mined in the world.

However, the local industry, which was worth 17 billion euros in 2021, faces the threat of sanctions to choke supplies of Russian diamonds.

Surat Diamond Bourse showcases the dynamism and growth of Surat's diamond industry. It is also a testament to India’s entrepreneurial spirit. It will serve as a hub for trade, innovation and collaboration, further boosting our economy and creating employment opportunities. https://t.co/rBkvYdBhXv

The Indian structure wrests the crown as the world's largest office building from the 620,000-square-metre Pentagon, which held the title for 80 years after being built near Washington DC to serve as the headquarters of the US military in 1943.

The Indian bourse consists of 4,717 offices for 67,000 diamond cutters, polishers, gemologists and traders. It also offers shaded courtyards for the informal commerce that is popular among traditional Indian traders.

The offices are also designed that they can be reached from any of the entrance points in seven minutes.

Morphogenesis Architects, which planned the red granite and white stone colossus spread across 35 acres of land and built at a cost of 355 million euros, said it had been “democratically designed”.

Plans for the world's largest office building just dropped...Morphogenesis unveiled the Surat Diamond Bourse in India, which has surpassed the Pentagon to become the world's largest office building, earlier this week.Intended to be "iconic yet not overpowering", the building… pic.twitter.com/gdW28QwpjB

“It has not been designed for an individual head of a company or an individual head of an association but has been requisitioned by a committee that represents the entire diamond merchants,” Morphogenesis co-founder Sonali Rastogi told RFI.

“The committee judged the design, making sure it was fair for everyone. The concept even applied to things like furniture.”

The nine towers connected with wide corridors are equipped with 131 elevators, fire safety gear, safe deposit vaults and customs facilities.

The offices, which can also double up as small workshops for cutting and polishing, were day-lit for diamond grading, “pushing Surat to becoming the world’s largest diamond trading hub”, the Surat bourse said.

And if necessary, architect Rastogi added, more diamond cutters, traders and polishers could be packed into the nine rectangular towers that are interconnected via a central “spine”.

“The building can handle more people— that’s a ‘yes’ for increased density. And when it comes to offices, they can fit more people to some extent. But overall there is enough space to increase density in the building.”

But some reports said traders of Mumbai were in no hurry to shift base from India’s financial capital to Surat, a mercantile district shunned in 1994 when plague killed 56 residents and later sullied by Gujarat’s anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

Despite this, many craftsmen working in gemstone sweatshops are likely to make a beeline for Surat as Rastogi pledges favourable conditions at the new building, 15 kilometres from the city.

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