Edifício Galeria, a landmark renovation in the history of Rio de Janeiro

Leitura de 5min

The center of Rio de Janeiro has stories to tell.

The center of Rio de Janeiro has stories to tell. Rua da Quitanda, for example, acquired that name because in the 18th century one of the street corners was home to a commercial established called Quitanda do Marisco – literally, the Shellfish Grocery Store. The street is also home to Edifício Galeria, one of the most striking constructions in Rio and today listed as part of the city’s architectural and cultural heritage.

Inaugurated in 1949, the Edifício Galeria was designed by architects Joseph Gire and Roberto R. Prentice who were also responsible for various other important buildings in Rio de Janeiro. Gire designed the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the Hotel Gloria and the Palácio Laranjeiras, today the official residence of the state governor. Prentice designed the Central do Brasil, the city’s main railway station.

Formerly the headquarters of SulAmérica Seguros, an insurance company, the Edifício Galeria was acquired and retrofitted by Tishman Speyer from 2009 through October of last year. The goal was to bring the building completely up to date while preserving its material, aesthetic and historic value.

In the case of Edifício Galeria, the complete modernization repositioned it in the market as a Class AA high-end development with modern technology and operations,” said Mônica Barg, director of Leasing at Jones Lang LaSalle in Rio. “As a result we have extremely elegant spaces that are both beautiful and comfortable, while preserving the staircases, the hall, the façade and other elements of the original design. What’s more, it offers space of a quality that was virtually nonexistent in the historic center of Rio,” Barg said.

Barg explained that the eight office floors of the Edifício Galeria now have 70% of their corporate space rented. “The offices alone occupy 22,000 m² of the total 29,000 m² of built area. This should generate roughly 2,500 people occupying the building every day.”

The offices have floors of 2,800 m². A building of such size can accommodate an entire company on one single floor, and this translates into greater efficiency in terms of operational costs and maintenance. Companies that choose the Edifício Galeria are moving into corporate space that offers raised floors, lowered ceilings, lighting and central air conditioning. The ground floor contains a shopping mall with upmarket brand-name stores and two restaurants where patrons are invited into the veranda areas. Adding to these qualities is the convenience of being very close to Rua 1º de Março and Avenida Rio Branco, two important thoroughfares that offer various services such as bars and restaurants. Edifício Galeria is also close to the Santos Dumont Airport, the ferry terminal, the Largo da Carioca Metrô (subway) station and the main bus route.

A privileged cultural location

As if the characteristics of the building and the advantage of being in the city center, in the block formed by Ouvidor, Rosário, Carmo and Quitanda streets, were not enough, the Edifício Galeria also forms part of what is called the Cultural Corridor, an area that comprises the SAARA, Largo de São Francisco and vicinity, Lapa-Cinelândia and Praça XV. The Cultural Corridor is maintained by Rio municipal authorities with the aim of revitalizing the city center and, as a consequence, the surrounding areas.

The Cultural Corridor started to promote changes as of 1989 in the city’s public spaces – elements such as squares, plazas, streets, sidewalks, urban equipment, illumination and trees – with the aim of attracting investors and new economic activities, both tourism-related and cultural. As a consequence, companies that had exchanged Rio de Janeiro for the new federal capital of Brasília started to move back into the region, and it started to gain new uses – commercial, tourism, leisure and educational.

We must always understand that attributing greater value to our culture and heritage has to go hand in hand with attributing greater value to our buildings, as a means of developing our city and our economy, allowing for the preservation of our historic and cultural heritage and our social memory,” Barg said.

“The retrofit of the Edifício Galeria was conducted with the aim of preserving the equilibrium between the cultural heritage of the building and the modernization of the physical space and installations,” said Daniel Cherman, president of Tishman Speyer. “As a consequence, we have an office building of extremely high quality that is totally integrated into the process of revitalizing the center of Rio de Janeiro. We used all the international know-how of our teams in repositioning historic constructions, for example like we did with the Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Center and the Hearst Tower in New York.”

Initial public offering

June 14th of 2012 saw the initial public offering of shares in the Fundo Imobiliário BM Edifício Galeria, a real estate investment fund that now owns the building. Concluded at the end of August, the IPO raised R$381 million and was used to acquire 100% of the target building, which belonged to Tishman Speyer.

The purpose of the BM Galeria real estate investment fund is to distribute among its shareholders the proceeds of the rental income derived from the building. The average rental price per square meter in the building is R$120. This lies within the normal range for the Rio de Janeiro market, according to JLL research.


The Edifício Galeria was twice awarded the Prêmio Master Imobiliário in the category for Retrofit of an Old Building, in both 2009 and 2012. The prize is awarded by Association of Directors of Real Estate Companies (Ademi)

In 2010, the building won the 48th Annual Award of the Institute of Brazilian Architects (IAB/RJ). And in August of 2012, it was awarded the Prêmio Master Imobiliário by Secovi and Fiabci in the Commercial Development category.