Construction of KB Bank HQ enters final phase

The construction by Samsung C&T Engineering & Construction Group of a 32-story (26 floors aboveground, 6 below) building on Yeouido, the island in the Han River dubbed Korea’s financial capital, has now entered its final phase.

When completed in August this year, this building is set to become the new headquarters of KB Kookmin Bank, one of Korea’s largest financial institutions.

The Samsung E&C team has been working hard for the last 17 months to execute the project on time. On Christmas Eve 2019, the erection of the building’s framework was at last finished with the final concrete placing. All that remains now are the external curtain walls and the finishing touches.

Samsung E&C Engineer Shin So-min spoke of the pride she felt in working on this project: “I feel really proud. This is my first construction site after on-the-job-training, so it’s my first time to place concrete on a roof.”

The engineering method used to build the framework of the new KB headquarters is the “strut top-down” technique, which reduces total construction time. A video made by the construction team demonstrating this new method won first prize in a Samsung C&T internal video contest for innovative techniques.

Samsung E&C Building Construction Engineer Kang Jae-min explains, “With the strut top-down method, we can simultaneously conduct earthwork and framework construction. This lets us reduce the schedule, so the framework takes 30 days for each floor, the same as the time needed to cure the concrete.”

During the building of the framework, the close-knit team battled many hardships, including a number of typhoons that moved through Korea. Together they erected tarpaulins and worked under them when there was only rain to contend with, but when the winds became too strong, they had to stop work altogether and take the temporarily shelters down. That meant they had to work doubly hard once the typhoons had passed to make up for lost time. With the completion of the building’s skeleton on time, and the whole project scheduled to be completed by August, the team members feel extra proud of themselves.

The work of raising the curtain walls is now in full swing, and it is the fervent hope of Samsung E&C that work on the new building will finish without accidents, and to the client’s satisfaction. Samsung E&C Quality Control Manager Lee Sang-gyu echoes this: “I hope the building will be completed without accidents. And I also hope that employees of KB Kookmin Bank will be satisfied with the quality of the building.”

While part of the team was busy putting up the framework, the rest was inside, laying the flooring and putting up the interior walls. This latter task had its own challenges, particularly when it was discovered that the materials originally bought were inappropriate for the project. Lee explained, “When we examined stones for the interior, we studied three buildings that were already completed in Korea and used stones from Macedonia. But we found out that those stones were weak. Also radon testing showed that stones from the U.S. were found to emit radon 17 times higher than the acceptable standard, 148 becquerels. So, we needed to find replacements and change the design.”

The result was a painstaking search of five countries, including Vietnam, Italy, India and China, to find the right materials for the interior of the KB headquarters. “These stones came from Spain. They are called moon gray. They will be used on every floor from the fourth floor up. White stones will be used on the third floor. And we will use viscon white from India for the first basement floor.”

The Samsung E&C team has developed a familylike bond, attending each other’s weddings and taking regular cooking classes together. Together they learned that building the perfect walnut pie was a little like constructing a good building – a good foundation and structure are important, as well as a tasteful interior.

The new KB Kookmin Bank headquarters building constructed by Samsung E&C in windy Yeouido is expected to become a distinctive landmark, standing out amongst the other tall corporate buildings on the island, not for its height, but for its heart.

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