Dwarfing St Andrew’s Cathedral is Raffles City, a huge development occupying a block between Bras Basah and Stamford roads and comprising two hotels – one of which is the 73-storey Swissôtel The Stamford – and a shopping mall. The complex was designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei (the man behind the Louvre’s glass pyramid) and required the highly contentious demolition of the venerable Raffles Institution, a school established by Raffles himself and built in 1835 by George Drumgould Coleman. The Swissôtel holds an annual vertical marathon, in which hardy athletes attempt to run up to the top floor in as short a time as possible: the current record stands at under seven minutes. Lifts transport lesser mortals to admire the view from the sumptuous bars and restaurants on the top floors.

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