For a long time, the architectural landscape of Penang Island had largely been preserved in its nostalgic British colonial heritage.
That all changed when the state government decided to build a modern 10-storey building in Downing Street, at the site of an old godown. The completion of Bangunan Tuanku Syed Putra in 1962 made it the tallest building in Penang, with colourful facades of yellow and red, and “wrapped” at the ends with greyish-blue walls. It housed various offices of the state and federal governments.
For the man in the street, the most frequented office was the General Post Office – located (appropriately!) on the ground floor.
Over the last 50 years or so, this once “tallest-and-colourful” iconic building has been dwarfed by countless nondescript high-rise structures all over the island, and is currently painted a sad yellowish white colour!